Category: Music Tools

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

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

Birthday Plans for Today

Here are my plans for my birthday (today):

1.) Spend a load of cash at Guitar Center on a Line 6 Relay G50 wireless guitar rig. It’s not like I can move very much on the relatively small stages we play on anyway, but I’d like to think I could. Also, the price and features are right, and I have a coupon. Go, coupon!

2.) Ride a boat or some crazy transportation vessel. Love the ocean. Visit the Asian Art Museum – Be a responsible member of society by culturally enlightening myself.

3.) Celebrate my birthday and your unbirthday! If you’re in San Francisco tonight, please feel free to stop by: [INVITE!]

Finally, here are a few things that totally made my morning. After all, getting off on a good start is some huge percent of the battle:

which also subsequently led to this video starring Christoph Waltz who played Col. Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds, one of my all-time favorite films:

Revisiting Old Festizio Recordings


Festizio | MySpace | Facebook | Twitter

In going through my old files, I uncovered a few unreleased Festizio demos for songs we never really used for various reasons. Usually we’ll drop a song if we feel it’s either not up to par or if it doesn’t fit well with our overall sound. However, I think the three songs below have enough merit to, at the very least, revisit on this very happy Friday.

The two photos were taken during one of our earlier shows at Ireland’s 32, a really great Irish (duh) pub in San Francisco. Even after having played at bigger and fancier venues, that night still brought in the most cash for us, as they gave us a portion of the bar tab and, let’s face it, our friends are drinkers.

Keep in mind that these songs are old and are no longer good representations of our current sound. You can check our actual studio work at the links above.

1.) Festizio – “I’ll Never Do It Again”
We recorded this song in our rehearsal studio. At the time, it was one of our better songs but it later fell into our “maybe” pile. Personally, I felt it was a bit too whiny.

2.) Festizio – “Out Of My Life”
Another song we recorded in our rehearsal studio. I wrote this during my big blues rock phase. The shift in style was too much of a jump from the rest of our set so we only ever performed it a handful of times.

3.) Festizio – “Time” (acoustic demo)
I wrote this song when I was still in college. I’m not exactly sure when it was recorded. Someone once told me it reminded them of John Lennon and I took that as a compliment. Please forgive the poor audio quality.

If you’d like to learn more about the thought process behind song composition, I highly recommend this recent Music Think Tank article by Brian Hazard entitled, “The Death of the Bridge.”