Category: Performer Magazine

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

RECORD REVIEW: Megan Slankard – A Token of the Wreckage (Performer Magazine – March 2011)


Megan Slankard | Performer Magazine – March 2011

Megan Slankard
A Token of the Wreckage
San Francisco, CA

“Sultry, warm with a golden glow”

Megan Slankard releases her fourth record in good company, aided by engineers David Bryson (Counting Crows) and Jerry Becker (Pat Monahan). A Token of the Wreckage includes 12 tracks of polished singer/songwriter anthems. The record features a consistent Americana sound, leaving Slankard to shoulder the responsibility of standing out with her unique songwriting and sultry voice.

The album opens with “A Token of the Wreckage,” a title track with such strong pop sensibilities it’s unmistakable as her first single. Subsequent tracks follow suit with comparably sharp production. “The Happy Birthday” offers a nice shift with its simple concept and upbeat swing. It’s songs like these that shine a light on Slankard’s clever lyrics. On “The Pain of Growing Up,” she itemizes a list of growing pains, including unfulfilled travel desires and working at Home Depot. It’s an honest track with an underlying melancholy that one can only hope isn’t completely autobiographical for her… not that there’s anything wrong with working at Home Depot.

Thoughtful construction and clever wordplay are the highlights on Slankard’s new record. A Token of the Wreckage is a generous collection that maintains its momentum from start to finish. (Daily Acts)

Produced by Megan Slankard and Jerry Becker // Mixed by David Bryson at Dancing Dog Studios // Mastered by Michael Romanowski in San Francisco

– Keane Li

Performer Magazine - March 2011 Cover

RECORD REVIEW: The Soonest – Quarters EP (Performer Magazine – July 2011)

The Soonest - Quarters EP
The Soonest | Performer Magazine – July 2011

The Soonest
Quarters EP
Berkeley, CA

“San Francisco dream rock with a darker side”

The Soonest’s latest release, Quarters EP, exemplifies the phrase, “less is more.” The San Francisco rock band, formerly known as Lion Riding Horses, sound much bigger than their four-part roster might suggest. While it only boasts four tracks, the production on each song exhibits a noticeable level of care.

The EP opens with “Ghosts,” a song appropriately titled with its haunting characteristics. Guitar arpeggios layer nicely with echoing sustain as vocals float listlessly across. Frenetic drum riffs propel the track forward, taking the dream pop characteristics of the song into a heftier level. The following track, “I Don’t Mind,” seems most reminiscent of the popular indie pop songs of our day. The boisterous drum riffs remind the listener of bands like Vampire Weekend, though The Soonest delivers in a manner more serious. “King” offers a bit of ballad with its longing lyrics and pop-influenced background vocals. The loving touch of ambient sounds and songwriting extend into the EP’s final track, “Ready.”

Vocals and instrumentation are rich, and the pacing of builds and lulls work refreshingly. It’s a balance that’s hard to execute. As a set, Quarters EP works effectively as an intro to a band already on the rise. (Self-released)

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Lori D. Brackney and Jose Rosa at Ex’pression College for Digital Arts

– Keane Li

My Top Published Works with Performer Magazine


I’m currently seeking a position in editing and content creation. If your company needs someone to manage their social media presence while creating original (and ridiculously good-looking) written features, please check out my resume and let me know! I’ve compiled a list of some of my publication achievements below for quick reference.

Additionally, I was recently featured as a Found Local in The Bold Italic, a wonderful online publication covering every facet of what makes San Francisco great. This isn’t related to my qualifications as a candidate. I just thought you should know ;)

Interview with Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl)

In mythology, the concept of duality follows closely with creation. Day and night, good and evil – the balance between two opposite pairs defines the human existence. This is a relevant citation when discussing The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, a two-person band balanced between opposite, yet complementary parts.

The pair in question is Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl. He, the only son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, has both the benefit and curse of being associated with two of the greatest artists of our century. She, a professional model with deep poetic flair, performs vocal harmonies with him. Their first album, Acoustic Sessions, finds its release on their own label, Chimera Music, named after an equally mythical creature.

Sean is in bed and Charlotte, having just woken him, apologizes if he might sound groggy. The two have been dating and living together for the past year, a relationship that explains the intimacy of their debut. The origins of their project are similarly intimate: “I was looking through her stuff,” Sean recounts regarding Charlotte, “and I found this play called ‘The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger’ from when she was seven. And I called out that I had found it, ‘Hey, what’s this? It would be really cool if we started a band called The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger.’ It was kind of a fluke idea, and she was like, ‘Sure, why not?’” (more…)

SF MusicTech Summit (12.06.10)

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. (more…)

Interview with Maus Haus

“Serendipitous” would be an appropriate word to describe the formation of Maus Haus. From their initial meetings to their creative process, everything about this San Francisco electro-synth sextet seemingly fell into place. To achieve the eclecticism in their albums, the band of multi-instrumentalists undergo extensive experimentation in the studio. Anything can happen. Their reversal of the traditional songwriting process has yielded the unique (and very catchy) results presented in their debut, Lark Marvels and their new EP, Sea-Sides. Having already gained considerable regional attention, the band is poised for their first East Coast tour this summer. (more…)

Treasure Island Music Festival 2008

The sun broke free and fans flocked to the middle of the San Francisco Bay for the second annual Treasure Island Music Festival this September. With a green bent and a breezy, beach party theme, the two-day celebration of music and art did not cease to amaze with its excellent booking, immaculate views and all-around smooth-sailing execution. (more…)

Xu Xu Fang – Seven Days Now (record review)

It requires no less than seven members to produce the broad soundscape exhibited by Xu Xu Fang’s latest EP, Seven Days Now. The Los Angeles psychedelic septet follows their successful previous release, The Mourning Son, with five ambitious and bold tracks that define the phrase, “larger than life.” The record already ranks high on several distribution sites and even includes a song featured in the hit show, Gossip Girl. (more…)

For a complete list of my published works, please click here!

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

PERFORMER MAGAZINE – RECORD REVIEW: Mikie Lee Prasad, Jukebox Folktales: Volume Two

RECORD REVIEW: Mikie Lee Prasad
Jukebox Folktales: Volume Two
By: Keane Li

One of the hardest working musicians in the Bay Area, Mikie Lee Prasad has been performing his rollicking brand of energetic Americana in local pubs and clubs for well over a decade. His recent release, Jukebox Folktales: Volume Two, a sequel to 2009’s Volume One, features a number of the talented local musicians he’s worked with on past projects.
The album opens with the diabolical “Try Evil.” Mikie sings a story not uncommon for a bluesman – a meeting with the Devil in an otherwise common place (this time, a gas station), with the humor and gypsy-esque jive of Tom Waits. “Don’t Wake Up” and “Hammer,” ballads steeped in that classic swirling American sound, conjure images of summer evenings and family friends. The inclusion of Bongo, his dog, and Marie, his wife, on this record show that it is, indeed, a familial affair.

Jukebox Folktales: Volume Two is an exhibition in what experience, maturity, and witty songwriting can get you. From its happy highs to its somber depths, the variation on this well-balanced album creates an experience that can be tirelessly enjoyed. (Self-released)

(link to review…)