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Funky

A little over a year ago I was out catching a set with one of our artists. I noticed a guy with a camera darting back and forth across the front of the stage in what looked like gymnastics maneuvers, but what was most likely his valiant efforts to catch the best shot he could in the crowded venue.

We were looking for a new addition to our video production team so I asked the club owner if he knew the guy. He said, “Oh ya, that’s Kaz, he’s here all time. He films all of the bands and offers them a great deal on the footage after their set.” I thought, “What a great concept. This is the type of dedicated, big picture work ethic that we’re looking for.” Of course before I was able to grab his attention, I got sidetracked with some friends, and we were headed to the next venue.

I was disappointed that I didn’t have a chance to chat with him. From what I could tell, this Kaz character was the hardest working videographer in Nashville. However, the disappointment was short lived. Sure enough, the next night I ran into him at a different venue. Or maybe it was his clone. I swear the dude is everywhere.

As our video department expanded we brought Kevin on for a few gigs and he nailed the project every time. He was always ready to work, but if he was ever tied up with another gig, Kevin would make some calls and have a crew ready for us right away.

So you can imagine that I was floored when he told me about his involvement in a new multimedia company called The Funky Umbrella. It is essentially a team of Kazanaters that have an unwavering dedication to their work and a genuine support of their clients. Could it be true? Did I finally find our match made in heaven? The Funky Record Umbrella Shop? While the name is a work in progress, I’m blessed to have the pleasure of working with these guys.

The Funky Umbrella is a unique media company that offers a wide variety of services under…….. (wait for it) one umbrella. They provide video, photography, web design, branding, and much more. But this ain’t the “one man, one stop shop” you’re used to. The Funky Umbrella has an amazing team of professionals, each with a specific skill set, working collectively to offer a comprehensive package of services for everyone from musicians to executives. (After reading that I realize I sound like I could be narrating their latest commercial, but what the hell, these guys are great!) But I’ll get off the soapbox and let you see for yourself.

Check out Thefunkyumbrella.com

The Funky Umbrella has teamed up with The Record Shop to handle the production of Balcony TV as well as our live video shoots and artist press kits.

We are stoked to be providing audio recording and mixing for The Funky Umbrella’s productions as well.

I am very excited about this new partnership (can you tell?) and look forward to continue offering our friends valuable resources in the development of their projects. Among our recent work, The Funky Umbrella and The Record Shop have teamed up with Lightning 100 to produce a video compilation of the Live On The Green Concert Series featuring Will Hoge, Los Lonely Boys, Edwin McCain, Ten out of Tenn, Here Come The Mummies, Brett Dennen, and many more. You can catch the videos here…. Don’t forget to check out The Funky Umbrella on  Facebook to see their latest work and viral resources!

Catch you next time

-Giovanni

The Record Shop

therecordshop1 (@) gmail . com

Michael Ide, from itproportal.com ,  says that “new reports suggest that Apple may soon replace low bit-rate music tracks with upgraded, higher quality ones. This move could likely be the result of Apple’s licensing agreement with the leading record labels in the music industry. Earlier, Business Week reported that the agreement between the two sides was now on the verge of being finalised, and also that upon being fully implemented it will allow Apple to go through a user’s entire iTunes collection and mirror it”…. read entire article here

While I am in full support of Apple making the effort to maintain the sonic quality that we as Producers spend so much time perfecting, I wonder if the average consumer would go for the idea. In the eyes of the mass consumer, is a high fidelity recording worth the extra space it will take up on hard drives and Ipods? Let us know your thoughts!

Our friend Randy Brunson drops by to share the news on his new digital download widget available at yourmuzik.net

In 2007, I had just spent 3 years developing a piece of property in Spring Hill , Tennessee. Until then,……..thats what I did. Building and Development. But music was always a passion.  Coincidentally, by developing where I did, all the new friends I made were in the music business. My longtime friend and business partner, Jim Heaton, was involved at the time building a Nashville based spa business, with partners that were/are in the music business as well. His immediate partner is a great singer/songwriter, and her sister was well on her way to becoming a celebrity with Dancing With The Stars, and eventually a recording contract of her own.

Jim and I have always had our own passion for performing, but an equal passion for the creation of something that would outlast us. Our idea at the time was, in the aftermath of the collapse of Napster,   that someone needed to give independent artists a platform to perform and expose their talents at an affordable cost to them, to  build a facebook for musicians, and a digital download widget that would give independent artists, (as well as established) the ability to directly sell their music to the public digitally, but “RETAIN MOST OF THE MONEY”.

So came the birth of the initial concept for Yourmusik.net.   In 2009, we created a venue for independent artists to perform at  my farm in the Spring Hill, Tennessee area. Billed as “Howling at the Moon”, it was an instant success with over 20 acts, and 350 people attending an afternoon event that lasted for several hours into the night. We initially had hoped to launch Yourmusik.net at the second party, given this summer, but unfortunately had too many problems with the programming of the download widget.  We had another great day managing to bring in “Younger than Yesterday, Former Members of the BYRDS” as a headliner.  Three years later, thousands of dollars poorer, and beat up on by every software programmer that could get their hooks into us, we are finally at a crossroads with a piece of programming that actually works, and does just what we set out for, gives over 80% of the  proceeds of the sale of music back directly to the artist.

I say crossroads, because I feel even after all this, we still have a long way to go to establish everything we set out for.  The rest of our concept is to create a website that gives musicians a resource to turn to other musicians for camaraderie and support, and to the site itself for the least expensive resource for recording, equipment, vocal and instrument lessons, videos, and on line practice and recording, to name just a few things.

What I will say, is that we are proud to present the Yourmusik Download Widget to  independent artists of all genres, and are working constantly to improve the
speed and performance of this programming. We have built in all the necessary reporting/accounting details so that each artist can monitor the results of their sales with this widget.  We  are essentially licensing the use of this widget directly to each artist who would like to use it, to copy and paste to whatever site they wish, be it Facebook, Myspace, or independent.

Social networks have become a major element of artist marketing campaigns. Susan A. Friedmann (TheNichePreneur™ Coach) shares her five biggest mistakes made in marketing through social networks. How have you utilized social networking to build your brand? Share your stories for a chance to win a free day of studio time at The Record Shop!

Over half of all Americans between the ages of 15-34 consider themselves active social network users. They regularly visit well-known social networking sites, such as MySpace or Facebook, or log onto specialty social networks, like Ravelry (devoted to the fiber arts) or GroupRecipes (for the foodie set). While industry research tells us that television watching is declining, especially among this age group, social network use is on the rise: average users spend seven to eight hours a week online. read the full article here….

Eric Normand, author of “The Nashville Musician’s Survival Guide” and accomplished guitarist, teamed up with “For The Record”, to provide some insight on climbing the ranks as a musician in the Nashville music industry. Eric’s upcoming book, “The Nashville Musician’s Survival Guide” provides a comprehensive reference of what it takes to persevere in the competitive Nashville music community.

You can learn more about Eric and his upcoming release at nashvillemusicianssurvivalmanual.com

Whether you are an obscure musician trying to get your music heard, a first-time author putting forth a new book, or an independent filmmaker introducing your first film, you all share something in common; a desire to introduce your art to a world that has yet to learn of it. How do you create an awareness of your project? These are tough times and the aforementioned endeavors are not easy ones. The list doesn’t stop there either. Photographers, artists, songwriters, and others are in the same boat.

The new global economy and a variety of other factors has created an extremely competitive dog eat dog world when it comes to business, and this means we all might have to take some alternative approaches to getting the word out. Without the proper publicity and promotion, no one will know about your great project, products or services. Traditional advertising is too expensive for most, and not necessarily that effective anymore. There is no right or wrong approach, but many believe that social media combined with Internet marketing are essential to most startup creative businesses at this point in time. If you’re ready to take the plunge, here’s how you can dive in.

  1. Build your social pool: Interact regularly on Facebook to slowly build a group of friends, fans, and followers on the Internet. With hundreds of millions of users, it shouldn’t be hard to find a couple hundred that are interested in you. Over time this can grow into thousands. Twittering can be productive as well.
  2. Start blogging: At this point in time, blogging is a powerful tool and can be used to promote literally any business. Create your own blog and write about your areas of expertise. The information you put forth should not only be directly or indirectly related to your products and services, it should also be useful to your targeted audience.
  3. Build a website: While a .com domain is optimum and will help to give your business a legitimate “face”, not everyone can afford one initially. There’s nothing wrong with starting out with a free WordPress (or similar) site. This will allow you to begin building your brand. Your blog should be built into this site or linked to it. This website/blog will serve as a central hub to all your Internet activity, with links to Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  4. Guest Blogging: It can take a while to create heavy traffic on your site. Blogging as a guest on a higher traffic site can help build your readership and drive more traffic to your site.
  5. Online Discussions: Find message boards with themes that relate to your project and interact with group discussions. Offer advice and perspective where pertinent and provide links to articles on your site.

There is a recent article regarding working in the new social media paradigm that offers some useful tip’s that I highly recommend reading – Top Seven Reasons Why Artists Strongly Resist Social Media by Ariel Hyatt.

The online social interaction approach to publicity is no secret, but it is still a new concept to many. Over time, if done correctly, you will build a “readership” that is genuinely interested in what you have to say, so always strive to provide useful information. By building a large group of readers, or “friends”, fans, and followers, you are connecting with an audience that will potentially come to your shows, buy your book, watch your film, and enjoy your art.

Is this easy to accomplish? No. Does this take time and effort? Absolutely, but then again so does any career. Without the proper promotion, nobody will ever hear about your project. If you think you have something good to offer the world, put it out there. Sometimes the best way to learn how to swim is to just dive in to the pool. You might sink and then again you might not, but you’ll never know if you don’t try.

Are you ready to take the plunge yet?

This week, For The Record features producer/engineer/writer, Tony Rockliff sharing some insight on the common mistakes that musicians make with their online content. Check out indietrak.com/blog for more helpful articles for recording artists. 

1) MAILING LIST MISUSE

Sending emails to their mailing list only or mainly when they want to sell something or get people to a gig or other event.

Here’s the bottom line on this – and I can’t stress this enough – your email list is your *most* valuable asset. It’s long been observed that the size of your mailing list and the number of mailings to it majorly determines your income. 

What too many don’t know is that in the current marketplace the *nurturing* of the list is now the key factor that realizes that income. And that doing 1) above badly misuses and dramatically weakens the potential value of that list.

Nurturing the list means using the list to continue to freely give valuable and useful information to build trust, respect and affinity. 

People on a list that is well-cared for and backed by an honest intention to help the survival of those on it will be much more responsive to what you have to offer, when you do on occasion also offer something for sale.

A list that is misused and the trust violated by only asking people to buy something or go to an event will dry up and eventually your emails won’t even be opened.

There is also precise technology on how to offer products or services for sale in an email that will be welcomed by your list which I’ll go into in a future post.

2) NO REWARD-DRIVEN OPT-IN BOX

On many sites you’ll see a box that says something like, “Join Our Mailing List”. The immediate question asked by visitors is, “Why?”

One of the most important things that your web site should do is get more people to opt-in to your emailing list – but you have to give them a truly compelling reason to do so! 

This could be a free MP3 or video of an unreleased track, an eBook of extremely useful information or anything that you feel would be considered really valuable by your public. I you don’t know what that would be – ask them.

Give them a really good reason to give you their email address and they will gladly do so. And you’ll grow your future potential income.

3) WEBSITE STRUCTURE

When a new person comes to a musician’s web site, do they want to read all the bio info or news or gig info for this band that they’ve never heard? No! They actually – and those with egos will need to forgive me – don’t give a darn about *any* of that.

What they’re looking for is that desirable emotional reaction that they get when they listen to music that they like.

But what do most bands do? They have a vanity home page saying, “Look at us, we’re (fill in the blank)”. And where do they have their music? Buried on the 4th or 5th tab over almost as an afterthought – exactly where the bios should be!

If you can win them over with your music, then they may begin to develop an interest in you personally, but until that moment, you need to focus on providing them with the emotional experience that they’re looking for.

A good musician’s or band’s site should have a strong compelling headline and a short, also compelling, introduction designed to get them to listen immediately to your music which should be available right there at the top of the home page – ideally in “sampler” format (30 seconds each of your best 6 songs one blending into the next).

Right next to your music player should be your opt-in email box with your irresistible reward for them giving you their email address.

4) NOT USING KEYWORDS CORRECTLY

I covered this one extensively in my last few articles so won’t repeat the info here, but if you missed those articles you can see them at my blog:

http://indietrak.com/blog

There are more mistakes that people make online, but those above are some of the major ones.

In the next article I will cover insider ways to use Twitter and Facebook successfully.

Tony Rockliff
http://indietrak.com

The music business….what can be said that hasn’t been repeated over and over and over again. Let’s skip all the details we’ve been whining about these last few years, and get down to it.  Basically, there’s not much room at the top these days. I often wonder, with great uncertainty, if there will ever be another Beatles, Madonna, Michael Jackson, or any of the “superstars” of past generations. Is it just vintage nostalgia that everyone’s favorite rock band is still Zeppelin, or have we reached a point where the focus on “commercial appeal” has resulted in a mass audience that has the attention span of my dog? (shout out to Jops!)

I don’t think anyone has the ultimate answer. (If you think you do, leave us a comment!). However, there is one thing that we can all agree on. Music is a product. In order for a business (the artist) to sell their product, they must market it effectively. Viral marketing is an essential aspect of a comprehensive marketing plan for artists. This week we lay out 5 steps to effective internet marketing for musicians.

Before you can develop an effective viral marketing campaign, it is important to understand the importance of offering quality content. In their book, Inbound Marketing, advertising guru’s Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, call this process “creating remarkable content.” The idea is that viral marketing is far more effective when the business develops an original strategy that is “remarkable” enough for the consumer to share with others. Twitter has proven that, in some cases, what you ate for lunch can prove to be remarkable content. However, this is only true if you are already a high profile figure. For the rest of us, success in the online domain rests in our ability to create our own, unique content. Once you have developed a creative marketing plan, that stimulates continued interest in your project, implementing the following strategies will become far more effective.

Note- For this article, we’ll assume that you have already developed professional social network profiles and a website. For more information on design, check out our blog: Why do I need a professional website…

1. Social Network Marketing: Build Your Core Fanbase

There are over 8 million music profiles on Myspace. Want to know how you can make like Waldo and stand out in the crowd? Build a core fan base. Mass friend requests are not an effective way to build real fans. Sure your stats will look great, but are they going to buy your record, probably not. Start by inviting friends that fit your target demographic. (age, location, interests, etc) Rather than just adding them to the page, include a personal message. Provide an incentive for them to visit your site, other than “check out my music.” People love getting stuff for free. Use this opportunity to show your appreciation of their support by offering some form of free content (download, ringtone, e-book, etc). Once you have developed your core fan base, make sure you give them a reason to check back on a regular basis.

Here is a list of important updates:

Personal messages
Daily status updates
New songs
New pictures
Consistent blog entries
News

As you develop a steady stream of media, remember that your goal is to create “remarkable content.” Rather than asking fans to buy your new song, write a blog on how the song came about, or a fun story from the studio. Providing your fans with a personal experience will give them a way to relate to you and your music. If you take the time to utilize these techniques on a regular basis, you will be on your way to developing a dedicating fan base that will support your efforts and, most importantly, tell their friends!

Popular Social Networks:

Facebook
Myspace
Twitter
Bebo
2. Blog, Newsletter, Live chat: Develop your community

Everyone loves to be “part of the group.” If you provide a medium to interact with your fans on a personal level, you will be able to build a community that everyone wants to be a part of.

Creating a blog is a great way to start building your online community. Once you have developed your blog page, embed your blog on your website to make it easy for fans to find. Once again, creating remarkable content is an essential aspect to the success of your blog. It is also important to urge your fans to leave comments and suggest topics for your blog. By providing your fans with a fun way to interact on the site, you will build a personal experience that will help develop your community.

Popular blog sites:

Word Press
Blogger
TypePad
SquareSpace

Sending out an e-mail newsletter is another excellent tool to engage your fans. Make sure your newsletter sign-up is easy to find on your website and social networks. Giving away free content for newsletter subscribers will help boost your submissions. Your newsletter should include news, pictures, excerpts from your blog, contests, etc. Offering creative ways for your fans to be a part of your community is key.

(We use Constant Contact for email marketing. Their site is easy to use and offers excellent services at affordable rates. For more information on setting up your email marketing account, drop us a line at therecordshop1@gmail.com)

Live video chatting is a new trend that has beecome very successful for artists in developing their community. Stickam.com is one of the more popular sites for this application. Live video is a great way to build relationships with your fans. It is much more personal than the other methods because your fans get a chance to actually interact with you in “person.” You can give them a behind the scenes look at rehearsals, studio sessions, and shows. Other popular concepts include: Q&A sessions, online performances, and sessions on the road. Keep in mind that, unlike blogs, your fans “see” everything on live video. It is important to maintain a strong image and attitude when the camera is rolling.

3: Video content: Build your visual presence

As we have discussed throughout this article, it is important to personalize your marketing strategy. While many of us have become accustomed to communicating on the web, visual interaction is still an integral aspect of developing relationships with fans. Since the first video of a cat jamming on the piano, viral videos have been a leading source of online entertainment. You Tube is the clear frontrunner for viral videos. However, sites like Myspace Video, Vimeo, Metacafe, and Daily Motion are also worthwhile platforms to promote your content.

Building your visual presence through viral video is a exceptional method for promoting your music. Once again, the emphasis on remarkable content is important to consider as you develop your viral presence. Remember, you want to offer something different than everyone else. Performance videos are great, but should be supported with other unique concepts. So pick up a camera, hire a videographer, and keep it rolling. You never know when something remarkable is going to happen.

Here is a list of suggestions for viral videos:

Live Shows (with quality audio and a good crowd)
Clips from studio sessions
Interviews
Exclusive performances (shot specifically for your video stream)
Tour video blog
Contest for viewer submitted video reponses

4: Online Media Promotion: Build relationships with the press

Now that you have built your fan base, community, and visual presence, its time to meet the press. Writers are flooded with countless requests from bands everyday. In order to get their attention, you have to take the time to build real relationships.

The local press is a good place to start. Your town probably has a local music zine and several community newspapers that cover local music. Call the office or visit the website to find out who chooses featured artists. Rather than just mailing in a press kit, share your interest in their work. Show your support at their events or on their blog. Through supporting their efforts and networking with their team, you will have the opportunity to build a relationship with the publication. Once you have developed a repoir, invite them out to a show or set up a casual lunch meeting. If you have followed the previous steps, you will be able to provide plenty of remarkable content that will hopefully gain their interest in supporting your project.

Online review sites are also a great resource, but even more difficult to break in to. In this case, rather than competing with your local community, you are up against every other artist on the web. Fortunetaly, you have developed your online presence and understand the importance of building relationships. Just be patient, these sites receive endless requests from artists. Most of them will get back to you eventually, but if you send them a message every day, your likely to get black listed.

The Indie Bible is an excellent resource for online press publications.

5:Internet Radio: Increase your exposure

Internet radio is one of the fastest growing, online promotional resources for artists. There are thousands of broadcasts on countless sites. Taking advantage of this opportunity is the final step in solidifying your comprehensive online marketing plan. Achieving substantial radio exposure takes creativity, time, and a lot of dedication. When done correctly, it can make the difference between making music and making a living making music.

In order to build your relationships with DJs, music directors, and radio promoters, you can use the techniques we discussed in the previous section. You’ll find that stations will be much more supportive of promoting you, if you have a method to promote them. Try offering a promotional campaign that advertises their station, inquire about ad space, and show your support by plugging their broadcast on your sites.

Once you begin to build these relationships, nuture them carefully. While you want to keep them up to date, you don’t want to overwhelm them with information. Invite them to sign up for your newsletter or blog so they can choose to stay up to date with your project. A monthly call, or email, to touch base and offer your support can also be effective.

Here is a list of the top internet radio stations:

Pandora.com
Live365.com
Slacker.com
Jango.com
NPR.org
Shoutcast.com
Radiotower.com
Streema.com

The Indie Bible is an excellent resource for online radio stations.

So there you have it. The 5 steps to effective internet marketing. Now its time to get to work! Remember, the three keys to following these steps are consistency, remarkable content, and…..consistency.

I hope this article provided you with the information you need to developing your online marketing plan . We would love to hear your questions, comments, and feedback! If we can be of any assistance, feel free to drop us a line!

Giovanni-

therecordshop1 (@) gmail.com