Saturday, 28 January 2012

Do forget your webpage...

Tweeting is pretty easy and making a 20-second Facebook post is way more fun than updating your website. But here’s the thing: your website is the only place online where you control the entire visitor experience. Don’t neglect it!

Whether you’re displaying concert photos, escorting fans through an interactive liner-notes page, asking them to sign up for your mailing list, streaming new demos, or driving visitors to your online store, your website is the place where you can do it all YOUR way.

Here is an interesting analysis, written by Michael Brandvold, of how the band KISS  greatly increased their social media presence at the expense of their website traffic, which has cost them some dough. Granted, KISS ain’t exactly “indie.” But the lessons learned should apply to all artists.

As a quick side note...what do you mean you don't have a webpage?!? A couple years ago, yes you could get away with just using a Myspace profile as your webpage, but Myspace is now done and has anything else really had the strength to replace it? facebook does okay, but it will always be a facebook page.  It's not yours. Social media based sites like facebook, reverbnation, ourstage, bandcamp, and others will come and go. If you have your own webpage, you will ALWAYS have your own webpage and our fans will always know where to go. 


Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Are you only going to get noticed if you move to a bigger city?

I once had the opportunity to sit down and chat with one of the biggest and highly influential people in the Canadian music industry. During this conversation he suggested that any band looking to get noticed ‘needed’ to move to either Vancouver or Toronto. He claimed that no one was even looking at what was going on in Markets like Edmonton or Calgary. “If you aren’t in Vancouver or Toronto, you don’t exist”

I had heard this before, but I have always disagreed with this belief. Being in Toronto and Vancouver does have some advantages, but just because you moved there doesn’t mean you’ll get noticed. For the most part, when you move to one of these markets it doesn’t matter what success you have achieved in your home market, you are starting out from scratch and you’re are starting over in a market that you may not be as familiar with. You probably won’t have the same kind of contacts at your disposal, compared to the network you built in your home market. As an ‘unknown’ in a new bigger market, you quickly become a little fish in a big pond.

The small handful of artists that I know, who have moved to either Vancouver and Toronto, and ended up ‘getting noticed’, technically didn’t ‘get noticed’ because they made the big move. They actually got noticed in their home market and the person who noticed them suggested they move to Vancouver or Toronto to ‘get noticed’. Once the artists moved, the person who noticed them and suggested they move had continued to be involved and helped them ‘get noticed’ in the new city. In most cases they were already a big fish in their own pond and that’s what got them noticed.

The world has gotten a lot smaller and artists can get noticed just as easily in their own basement as they could out on tour, starving in a rented van on the road. It doesn’t matter where you are. You build a strong enough presence in your home market, people will notice. More and more stories are surfacing about artists getting discovered online when their videos go viral or they have built a highly engaged online fan based. If a booking agent was looking to book an artist and a club turn down the show because they had already booked a local band in that was guaranteed to sell out the venue, there’s a strong chance the booking agent is going to ask “What’s the name of the local band?”

I’m originally from Saskatchewan and that is usually the last place people would expect to see a band get noticed from, but I’ve seen it happen twice now. First with Wide Mouth Mason who went from playing the local university pub to opening for The Rolling Stones and AC/DC and again recently with The Sheepdogs who where still based in Saskatoon when they got on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Even my own success in the industry started in Saskatoon where I proved myself enough to make BMG Canada (now Sony Music) want to move me Edmonton and today my company Oddball Productions is helping artists get their music on radio stations all across Canada and even in the United States. When I think about it, even though I’m based in Edmonton I technically have more success with Oddball and the artists we work with outside of Edmonton than in Edmonton itself.

If you are considering moving to a new market, don’t just move to move. Make sure you consider the following:
    • What kind of contacts will you have in this new market and are those contact going to help you once you move?
    • Whose idea was it to move? Did someone suggest it or is it something you think you should be doing?
    • What impact will it have on your current audience and fan base?
    • What is the scene in the new market actually like? Just because a market is bigger it doesn’t mean they have a bigger and better scene. What more can that music scene offer you?

Just like any other business, growth and expansion is a good thing. You rarely see a business close it’s doors and move somewhere else to start over. They grow their business and if the business needs require them to move to a new market, then they evaluate their options and make a decision on moving based on what options are available. The same should apply for artists. Grow your fan base, your audience, your customer base at home first, then look at expanding, but before making any decision to move ensure you analyze and explore all your options. Weigh out your options and ensure your moving to an opportunity not a dream.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Alan Cross's predictions for 2012...

Check out Alan Cross's predictions for 2012. Worth reading...

Alan Cross: 14 Predictions for Music in 2012

Do you agree or disagree? Do you have any predictions for music in 2012?

Friday, 30 December 2011

Wrapping up the year...

Aside from saying “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from (Insert Artists Name Here)” at this time of year, it can be tough finding stuff to post online to keep you fans engaged during this time of year.

Something easy to do is simply post your Top 10 CDs of that year. By doing this, you’re not only keeping you online activity active during this time of year, but you’re also sharing some information about yourself with your fans. Seeing similar artists listed in your Top 10 might help new fans get a better idea what you’re music is about or maybe help someone just checking you out for the first time get a better understanding about what you’re about. You may give your fans something to talk about if your picks are completely different from what your music is. The most important thing is you’re staying active and interactive online and that helps to build fan engagement.

And in the interest of “Actions speak louder than words” here’s my Top 10 CDs from 2011. I’d love to hear your comments on my picks or feel free to leave your own Top 10 picks from 2011. To add a little additional enticement for you to post a comment, everyone who posts a comment about this BLOG or their own Top 10 CDs from 2011 will be entered to win a copy of the 2011 Edmonton Music Awards CD (featuring Wool On Wolves, Colleen Brown, Jezibelle, Jeff Morris and more…)

Here’s my Top 10 of 2011…

Danny Fournier (founder of Oddball Productions and The Edmonton Music Awards) Top 10 CDs of 2011
1. Sixx A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt
2. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming
3. Pearl Jam – Twenty
4. Destrophy – Cry Havoc
5. Burn Halo – Up From The Ashes
6. Steel Panther – Balls Out
7. The Poodles – Performocracy
8. Adelitas Way – Home School Valedictorian
9. Trivium – In Waves
10. Jezibelle – Victus Mortuus

Monday, 19 December 2011

Tis The Season For Giving...but should you REALLY give your music away...

There has been a lot of discussion and opinions shared about the impact of an artist giving away their music for free.

Benefits - great way to get your name out there, build a fans base and potentially get people to come out to your show, maybe even sell some merch. That’s the dream anyways…

Draw back – you RARELY see the return on your investment. I don’t care how you argue it, giving away your music for free is a loss leader. You can argue that it’s more important to build the fan base that will potentially pay to come see you play live or buy a t-shirt at your show, but in the end when you give away your music, you are devaluing your music. I personally feel that when you give away your music, you devalue music as a whole.

Let me give you an example. Facebook. Facebook is free, but if they started charging a fee for it tomorrow, would you still use it?  Even if you said “Yes, I’d pay for facebook” how long would you continue to pay for it once you realize that no one else is on facebook anymore because it is no longer free. 

Another example…free samples at Costco. How often after trying something at one of those booths do you turn around and buy whatever they are sampling. Or let me ask you you remember what you tried the last time you were at Costco. How big of an impact did that free sample have on you?

Now at the same time, every once and a while when you try a free sample at Costco, you or someone else does end up buying the product. I know I have. Just like when someone download’s your track for free, they may turn around an buy your whole album or decide to go to a show, maybe buy a t-shirt. I know I have. 

Building an audience by giving away music is a gamble. If you are going to give away your music for free, be smart about it. Give away a track or two…not your whole album. Do it for a limited time, not an ongoing free give away. The longer it’s free, the less valuable it will become. Know WHY you’re giving it away and what the goal is. Make people earn it. Don’t give it to them…make them ask for it.

I could keep this going, back and forth about the benefits and drawbacks of giving your music away for free, but in the end I think the argument that will always win is that good music is good music. Doesn’t matter if it is free or not, people want to listen to good music, music that appeals to them and if they have to pay for it, they will.

Recently, Forbes magazine published a list of the “Best Free Albums of 2011” which I found interesting for two reasons. The first, Forbes is a recognized business oriented magazine and they’re even weighing in on the benefits and draw backs to giving away your music for free. The second, somewhat proofing one of my points as to why you shouldn’t give away your music for free…I don’t recognize the name of any of the artists on this list…

CLICK HERE to see Forbes list of the "Best Free Albums Of 2011"

Please feel free to argue, agree or post your own thoughts on this subject. 

Saturday, 17 December 2011

More Growth In Listening To Online Radio


Okay, so these are American figures, but I'd bet that the numbers for Canada (where high-speed Internet penetration is higher) are the same if not higher. This is from today's RAIN (Radio and Internet Newsletter):

While most news sources focused on the report's dire predictions for print media ("Most print newspapers will be gone in five years"), kudos to Inside Radio for digging a little deeper for this tidbit: 22% of study respondents report "going on the Internet at least weekly" to "listen to online radio."

While that figure was outranked by online activities like general web-browsing, online banking, social networking, and gaming -- it's interesting that 22% isalso the share of respondents who pay bills online. Also keep in mind that the "to listen to online radio" response was distinct from the "to download or listen to music" response (38%).

Here's another point the Annenberg summary made that should be of interest to broadcasters and webcasters: Over the next three years the tablet computer (e.g. Apple iPad) will become consumers' primary tool for most online/computing activities. Use of the trusty desktop will drop to 4-6% (laptops too!). "For the vast majority of Americans, the tablet will be the computer tool of choice by the middle of the decade, while the desktop PC fades away," the research summary reads. Food for thought.

Interesting, no? Read the rest of the study here.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

7 Tips to Get Your Music Selling This Holiday Season

300px Juletr%C3%A6et Top 10 Tips to Get Your Music Selling This Holiday Season1. Email Your Fanbase

It seems simple enough, but often gets overlooked. Gently remind your fans where your music is available for purchase. It always seems less “sales-y” if you can include this info as part of a larger email announcing shows, new videos, albums, special Holiday singles, etc.
2. Record a Holiday Single
It might sound like a hokey idea, but hell, the Beatles did it and it certainly didn’t hurt their career. You could also make it an exclusive track on your website, give it away, or email it as a special offer directly to people who purchase your albums. Fans will get a kick out of it and they’ll be reminded of your music in general, thus planting the seed for gifting your albums.
3. YouTube Videos
You don’t have to be Bing Crosby or Aimee Mann to make compelling Holiday videos. With affordable camcorder and iPhone technology you can easily create a video for your holiday song. Or simply refresh your regular video content with some updated material. Link viewers directly to where they can buy your music.
4. Change Out Those Tired Old Links
If you’ve been using the same graphic hyperlink images forever, maybe it is time to enliven your websites and social networking profiles with a new look. You could even enlist your design-oriented friends to help you make some holiday-themed images for your links, or to upload as the banner image for your MusicStore on Facebook. Also, make sure all of the links you’ve got out there on the internet are still active.
5. Download Cards Make Great Gifts
They’re small, light, and come customized with your album art — perfect for stocking stuffers! Also, there are a number of promotional uses for download cards. You could do a Twitter contest and use them as prizes to generate excitement for your music around the holiday season. Give them to particularly awesome fans. Or bundle them with your regular CDs so the buyer can share your music with someone new.
6. Leverage Social Networks
Social networks are the perfect place to get people talking about your music. Share some of your own personal picks for the season. Stir a little excitement with a giveaway contest. Encourage fan involvement. Remember, social networks are most effective when you converse with your followers, so don’t just shout at them like a desperate street vendor.
7. Run a Limited-time Holiday Sale
Announce to your email list and social networking friends that from now until the Holidays you’ll be selling your discs for a reduced cost. Offer a buy one get one free deal, encouraging people to buy a disc and give another one to someone as a gift. 
(Thanks to Chris R. from CD Baby for some of these tips)