Category: Music Industry

PERFORMER MAGAZINE – Exploring the Future of Music Tech with Jolie O’Dell

Jolie O'Dell - Photo by Ken Yeung

Jolie O’Dell | Download this issue of Performer Magazine

Technology reporter Jolie O’Dell established herself as an industry expert with her work in publications like Mashable and ReadWriteWeb. She currently writes for VentureBeat and serves as a panel moderator for the SF MusicTech Summit, an annual conference bringing together technologists and music enthusiasts in San Francisco. In this interview, she shares her thoughts on how independent musicians can best leverage technology.

What are some of your favorite apps/services for musicians?

I like tools like Moontoast Impulse, which helps you embed and sell your album on Facebook. I like tools like StageIt, which allows musicians to create webcam concerts so they can promote them to fans and make a little money on the side. Then there are monitoring tools that are really great like Next BigSound. It’s an amazing and really simple interface for bands to understand what effect they have on the Internet. I don’t know if you’ve checked out the other social media analytics tools, but they’re so big and complicated. Next Big Sound is the closest you’re going to get to a simple, color-coded, push-this-button-find-out-where-you’re-most-popular thing for bands to use.

How can bands create brand awareness online?
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PERFORMER MAGAZINE – Interview with Earbits CEO Joey Flores

Earbits | Link to article in Performer Magazine

Earbits.com, a new online radio site, formed a collaboration with the San Francisco Chronicle this Wednesday to provide a curated, location-specific music discovery destination. CEO Joey Flores described in an interview how the idea for Earbits came about and how the site can benefit independent musicians.

What is Earbits?

Earbits is an online radio platform designed to be more of a marketing tool for the music industry. Instead of ads, we’re working to turn airtime for artists into sales of their new releases and merchandise. As an example: Later this week we’re launching a partnership with Relapse Records, promoting a new album by one of their artists. Users will be entered into a sweepstakes by joining the band’s mailing list, which will probably include tickets to shows and a meet-and-greet with the band. Anyone who hears one of their songs will be presented with the sweepstakes opportunity. This is a campaign that we would run as opposed to an advertising campaign for a regular sponsor. Right now, we’re working with about 170 labels, we have 2000 bands on board, we have over half a dozen Grammy winners, and we have festival headliners and platinum artists. We’re trying to create a marketing platform that really helps artists and labels get music out there to listeners and consumers with the eye on the music industry as our core clientele.

How did the idea for Earbits come about?

My background is in performance-based marketing and localized ad network marketing — paid search, media buying and things like that. When it was time to market our album and our shows, we spent about $20,000 trying all kinds of things from Sonicbids to all of these other services. We were taking out ads on television and were doing everything we could to try and promote our album and our shows. It was really ineffective. So my buddy says, “Well, how can we translate what you do during the day — ad networks, performance-based marketing — to the music industry. The problem is that people have to hear it. The reason why performance marketing doesn’t work on the Internet — why Facebook ads don’t really work — is because a visual ad can’t convey the quality of music unless you already know that band. You’re not going to click on it, and half of the time you do, you find the bands are not that great. Our concept is to create a curated place where consumers will actually want to go to discover music and find out who’s playing near them.
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PERFORMER MAGAZINE – The 8th SF MusicTech Summit


SF MusicTech Summit | Performer Magazine — July 2011

The Brightest Minds in Music Technology Converge

The 8th SF MusicTech Summit, held on May 9, brought together musicians, computer developers and business professionals under one roof for a day of panels dedicated to brightening the future of the music industry.

“You can’t pirate intimacy,” opened Evan Lowenstein of StageIt, concisely summarizing the morning’s panel featuring guests Brandon Boyd and Mike Einziger of Incubus. The panelists focused on fan engagement and stressed that great concert experiences can’t be pirated. Boyd and Einziger offered their viewpoints as established artists, including Boyd’s professed shyness to self-promotion. Einziger commented on the shift with emerging technologies: “When we were young, we mailed out mailing lists and drove around to schools, but nowadays that’s a waste of money.”

The “Live Music Marketing” panel brought together founders from a number of top events promotions websites. Live Nation’s Aaron Siuda opened: “I’ve shifted 30% of my budget to online ads. You don’t need to do the shotgun approach.” Artists are now able to cost-effectively target demographics using metrics offered by platforms like Facebook. Julia Hartz, co-founder of Eventbrite, added, “Ticket buyers are ten times more likely to buy a ticket if they see a friend sharing it.” Songkick’s Ian Hogarth offered a reminder of the importance of simpler communications: “Text, phone and email still rank high on shares next to Facebook.”

In the afternoon, Mashable’s Jolie O’Dell quickly bypassed the obvious platforms of Facebook and Twitter in “Tools for Your Band.” The panel suggested services for artists like Topspin, SoundCloud, and Songtrust and SoundExchange for royalties. Perhaps the most celebrated tool of the Summit was RootMusic’s BandPages, a Facebook Page customization service. While such tech-centric recommendations were common throughout the day, the majority of the panelists still emphasized the fundamental importance of creating great content and engaging authentically with fans.

And to that, some things never change.

– Keane Li, photo by Kara Murphy

Is Rebecca Black’s “Friday” Actually Good?

The answer is no. A million times no. And the only reason one might suggest it has redeeming qualities is in pandering toward the corporate music machine. Case in point: Rolling Stone, the same publication that gave Avril Lavigne’s gag-worthy song “Alice” (from Burton’s Alice in Wonderland) three stars, recently published the article Why Rebecca Black’s Much-Mocked Viral Hit ‘Friday’ Is Actually Good:

For one thing, Black’s voice is totally bizarre. It’s not just the processing on her vocals – she has a peculiar tonality that inadvertently highlights the absurdity of boilerplate pop lyrics that may not seem as ridiculous if, say, Katy Perry was singing instead. When she sings the “Friday, Friday” hook or the “fun fun fun fun” refrain, she sounds unlike anything else in pop music. Perhaps the closest comparison is Laraine Newman in Saturday Night Live’s Coneheads sketches – pinched and stilted, like an alien attempting to pass an average American girl. Obviously, this isn’t the most pleasant sound in the world, but Black comes out sounding like a distinct singer with an alluring sort of anti-charisma.

What?!

I suppose one ought to credit her for highlighting the importance of cereal (breakfast is the meal of champions) or the profound dilemma of choosing which car seat to sit in — a metaphor for life, really, in which she chooses the back. Lazy.

I much preferred this quote from Salon:

Like any effective horror show, “Friday” seems innocuous — almost innocent — at first. But this is no mere off-brand Selena Gomez or Demi Lovato production. Somewhere around the second note of the eerily auto-tuned song — and its equally unlifelike video — it becomes clear that it’s possible to create something that’s an insult to Kidz Bop. With lyrics like, “Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday. Today is Friday, Friday. We we we so excited. Tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes … afterwards” — delivered in Black’s dead-behind-the-eyes monotone, “Friday” will haunt your nightmares. Did I mention the tragic rap interlude, where a man with delusions of being Usher throws in a “Whooo!” and something about “passing a school bus”? I’ll leave the final verdict on the whole thing to my 7-year-old, a child whose penchant for eating ChapStik suggests she may not have the most discriminating of tastes, who declared of “Friday” that “This is the worst,” before stalking out of the room in disgust.

But remember how in “Alien” it was really scary because of the Alien, but in “Aliens” it was even scarier because there were a lot more Aliens? Here’s the ominous thing about Rebecca Black — she’s just the tip of a horrible iceberg called Ark Music Factory. With its roster built almost entirely of very young, trying-very-hard girls, the recently launched company from producers Patrice Wilson and Clarence Jey emits a distinctly “Toddlers and Tiaras: The Next Generation” vibe. What good can ever come of a company that uses comic sans for its artist profiles?

The only redeeming quality about this song is that it serves as a wake-up call for an industry far too out of touch with its artistic roots. Compare the feeling of watching the Grammy Awards to that of watching the Oscars. Or compare the nominees from this year’s Grammy Awards to those fifteen years prior: Katy Perry and Justin Bieber vs. Alanis and Pearl Jam. With the burgeoning indie scene and established artists leaving major labels, it’s getting harder and harder to find any relevancy in the system.

To have money spent on this lyrical nightmare while loads of hardworking artists go unnoticed is just a travesty. I dared the universe to find me something worse than Ke$ha and I was once again moded.

PERFORMER MAGAZINE – SF MusicTech Summit (12.06.10)

SF MusicTech Summit | Performer Magazine | Download Issue

Networking Hotspot Invades the Bay

The SF MusicTech Summit opened for its seventh year on December 6. The conference, focused on the convergence of music and related technologies, featured a total of 19 expert panels and new product demonstrations. The list of speakers included notables from both the music and tech worlds: reps from Universal, Avid, MOG, SoundCloud, RootMusic, Talenthouse, Gracenote and Blip.fm, to name a few; and musicians like Del the Funky Homosapien, Evan Lowenstein and Rana Sobhany, New York City’s iPad DJ. Attendees flew in from all around the world, making SF MusicTech a hot networking spot for both up-and-coming musicians and app developers.

In the opening panel, “Engaging Your Community,” moderator Brenden Mulligan from Sonicbids led a discussion on how independent musicians could tap into the vast resource of social media platforms, including tips on uniting online fans. The panel recommended an online hub, such as the band web page, linking an artist’s various profiles to one location. Author David Meerman offered tips from his book, Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead, such as involving fans by providing items of value for free. He suggested artists ask themselves not only what fans are going to like, but rather what fans are likely to share.

The afternoon’s “Live Electronic Musicianship” panel focused on the future of the live “controllerist.” Featuring artists from LoveTech SF, an amazing electronica troupe, they acknowledged that innovations arise when artists test the limitations of their gear. Similarly, the speakers in “Tour Secrets from the Pros” recommended working with the restrictions of live surroundings and listening to your best friend: the sound guy.

Closing the day, “The Artist Panel” offered tips from a list of successful musicians. “Good music. Product. That’s where it all starts,” advised Del, “Bring back the mystery between artists and fans.” The panel closed with an uplifting nod to indie musicianship from recording artist Raul Malo: “This is the most promising time for the young artist,” he said, “We don’t need the wizard behind the curtain anymore. We’ve seen the wizard, and he’s an idiot.”

The next SF MusicTech Summit is scheduled for May 9, 2011.

-Keane Li

Michael Jackson (1958-2009)


www.michaeljackson.com
www.myspace.com/michaeljackson

Michael Jackson was a legendary icon from as far back as I can remember. From our emulating the Moonwalk in grade school to sporting single studded gloves in the late 80s (a trend in which I thankfully did not partake), his influence on pop culture stretches far beyond his influence in music alone.

Overexposed in the news, yes. Nuclear missiles on the horizon, of course. But how can I have a music blog without at least paying some respect? Rest in peace, MJ.

Here are a few live performances that I find particularly rad…

First performance of the Moonwalk at Motown’s 25th Anniversary, 1983