Wednesday, April 30, 2008

iLike (and its apps) are helping musicians reach fans across the web

iLike is an emerging leader in this competitive but still relatively young marketplace of “music discovery” services that help musicians build fan bases. We’ve been tracking the Seattle, Wash. company for years, and at this point it appears to have become a significant component of how music will be shared in the future. Both new and existing acts are using it to help advertise album releases, and iLike is starting to have a big impact.

The company, which has gained more than 25 million total registered users, bridges two industries of questionable value — music and social networking. And get ready for this: It has a couple interesting revenue streams coming in. More on that in a second.

A key component of iLike is its social network applications on Facebook and other sites, that let you become “fans” of musicians and do things like see when a band you’re a fan of is playing nearby. Artists can also stream songs or entire albums live within their pages on social networks. A musician can send out a single update about a concert, a new track or whatever, and iLike will distribute that message across all of iLike’s properties.

Nineties’ rock band R.E.M., for example, launched a comeback album and tour last month starting with a live stream of its new album and promotional page on iLike’s app, and — and this is at least an interesting correlation — the album spent a week at number one on the two largest music sellers on the web, iTunes and Amazon’s music site earlier this month, and had sold-out concerts.

However, R.E.M. is a known act so maybe this and the quality of the music were what drove people to like it? Here’s another example of iLike at work. Earlier this month, it played an interesting part in helping an album release up-and-coming band called Lady Antebellum become the first country act to crack the iTunes top albums list, reaching number three at one point.

The album has also become a mainstream success, performing in the recent CMT country music awards ceremony, and becoming the first new act to debut at #1 in Billboard’s list of top country hits since the list itself was created in 1964. It sold more than 43,300 units in its first week of sales. And, while country hits normally only generate 4.5 percent of sales from digital music, Lady Antebellum’s latest album’s sales were more than 21 percent digital — which suggests that digital marketing of various forms, such as iLike’s applications, led people to buy digitally.

So where does iLike fit in?

Lady Antebellum has nearly 10,000 fans on its iLike page (see screenshot above), which includes fans on its Facebook application and other social networks. It is an increasingly large component of marketing music online — where MySpace still reigns. The band was formed because its members met each other in 2006 on MySpace, and began posting tracks there — now it has 28,270 friends on its MySpace site profile (warning: If you go to that page, you’ll be assaulted by a song and a music video — with ads — all at once). Meanwhile, Lady Antebellum has only been using iLike for the last eight months, meaning that’s its popularity there has had less time to grow, and its been doing so in properties that aren’t as immediately recognized as places for musicians and their fans.

Also, Lady Antebellum had promotion efforts like interviews with radio stations and paid ads that it ran for its album. There are lots confounding variables when it comes to determining what makes music successful, besides just being good.

So here’s more on why you need to be paying attention to iLike. Its strategy is to be everywhere with an internet connection, especially everywhere besides MySpace. It began as a free-standing music community site where you could share clips of songs and see music that other people liked, part of indie band site The company has expanded to include a desktop iTunes toolbar that tracked what you listened to and recommended new music to you based on what other fans of your favorite music also liked. It launched a set of applications on Facebook when the social network began letting third parties build apps within its site, nearly a year ago. Its most popular Facebook application lets you post clips of your favorite tracks on your Facebook, profile, see when bands that you like are playing near you.

In the past half a year, it has also introduced similar applications for other social networks, built on the Open Social app development standard, including apps on Hi5, Bebo and MySpace, but its early days for all of those social network platforms. While its Facebook app has more than 13 million total users, and used daily by around 400,000 of them, the Bebo app appears to be the second largest among social networks, having been added by nearly half a million total Bebo users.

[Update: hi5 (the ‘h’ in the company name is officially lowercase) tells me its iLike app has been installed by 4.3 million of its users, far more than Bebo’s number of installs. This is pretty impressive for hi5, because the number shows that with less time and a less complete platform than Facebook’s, many third party apps can still reach millions of users on it. The caveat here is that iLike launched its app in December, as a beta tester of sorts, while the hi5 platform only officially launched late last month. Bebo also offers other options for viewing media, that may have dampened interest in its iLike application. Anyway, the metric that really matters here, that only Facebook seems to openly measure, is how many users actively use the application.]

Academic researchers have yet to prove the casual relationship between online buzz and album sales, but the evidence keeps building that it is, and iLike is showing something more. Its showing the value of giving away music for free.

R.E.M.’s album on iLike was streamed more than 1.5 million times before the album went on sale. ILike makes money from revenue-sharing agreements with Apple and Amazon, sending its users to those services. Ticket sales are another revenue stream. iLike is already one of the top sources of tickets for Ticketmaster, an investor.

Of course, there are other music discovery services, like, Pandora and Imeem. ILike’s service requires attention by whoever’s running a band’s universal dashboard: Short, frequent updates with some regularity tend to attract the most attention, chief executive Ali Partovi tells me.

And, on that note, here’s a (rather choppy at the start) audio recording that I made of a recent call with Partovi. He talks about the success of R.E.M and other bands on iLike, and more. Check it out.

Labels mull release strategies in age of piracy

It used to be so easy. When the entertainment industry had control over its distribution, back before piracy set in, there was this notion of a "release window."

It allowed the film industry to rake in billions by carefully orchestrating exactly where its content was consumed and via what format. Movies appeared first in theaters, then on home video, premium cable and finally network TV, with domestic and international releases interspersed among them.

It's something the music industry has long hoped to replicate. But in a sort of cosmic joke, the dawn of digital entertainment gave the music industry a host of new products to sell beyond the CD -- such as ringtones, ringback tones, videogame downloads and digital downloads -- and digital piracy to render the "windowing" effort powerless.

"In a perfect world, we would be able to execute more of a windowing strategy," says Jeff Dodes, senior VP of marketing and digital media at Zomba/Jive Records. "But (when) we plan a strategy and then the track leaks . . . what strategy do we really have? That happens to us fairly often."

Once a track leaks, that's it. No more control. The result? Everyone scrambles to make money where they can, as fast as they can, on whatever format holds the most potential at the time. That's what led urban pop duo Gnarls Barkley and rock group the Raconteurs to rush-release albums in physical and digital formats rather than build demand with an early single.

But that doesn't stop the industry from trying. Despite the chaos, there are islands of sanity where a savvy label can still manage the staged release of music.

"Some things are more controllable than other things," Jupiter Research music analyst David Card says.

Take CDs. The physical release is one of the few music products that is solely under the label's control; in some cases staggering a physical album's release after its digital debut can help regain some lost ground. Radiohead found success debuting its "In Rainbows" album as a digital download months before releasing the physical CD, and the latter still became a No. 1 seller. Many indie and emerging acts are following similar strategies. Even Columbia Records is embracing the concept with the release of U.K. songwriter Adele's U.S. debut,"19."

Things get tricker with digital products, particularly downloads. Conventional wisdom says that barring the occasional iTunes exclusive, the best bet is to make the album available everywhere the moment the first single is serviced to radio.

Read The rest here..

RIAA attacks MySpace’s music player for playing artist-approved tunes

At first it might have seemed like the RIAA is innocently out to protect the rights of artists, but enough is enough. Now the RIAA is filing a suit against Project Playlist, the music player used on MySpace to play music that has been approved by artists for consumers to listen to and include on their personal pages.

According to CNET, the RIAA is for some reason under the impression that Project Playlist is somehow in the wrong for letting users hear music that has been explicitly uploaded and approved by artists for consumers to listen to as a marketing technique. The RIAA said, “Project Playlist performs and reproduces plaintiffs’ valuable works (and induces and enables others to do so) without any authorization whatsoever…without paying any compensation whatsoever.”

Well, that isn’t too far off. For anyone that releases music via MySpace, they sign off on an agreement that notes it won’t be for any monetary compensation. It isn’t like Project Playlist is holding a gun to artists’ heads and demanding they submit their stuff for no pay.

Really, it isn’t Project Playlist’s fault that MySpace chose its third-party player. Then again, it would be really hard to take down MySpace, which is owned by News Corp. The RIAA probably recognizes that it would be in bad form to bite one of the hands that feeds it, and is taking out its unleashed aggression on hapless small third-party software developers.

As CNET aptly points out, even though Project Playlist doesn’t directly host the songs that are uploaded for MySpace, that has never kept the RIAA from picking on torrent groups or file indexing websites. The biggest problem with the RIAA picking on Project Playlist is that the artists themselves are the ones responsible for signing off on the distribution of their music on MySpace, so what right does the RIAA have to file a suit?

In fact, the whole reason artists distribute music on MySpace is so that users who like what they hear of a few songs will go out and buy a new album. MySpace is a terrific venue for advertising your content and show schedules; if anything, the RIAA is only harming the artists it claims to support by directly attacking on of the best marketing tools at their disposal.

Please don't rip off our music

Australia's biggest musical acts are crying poor in a new documentary that seeks to discourage people from obtaining music illegally and change the public's perception that they live a high life of riches and glamour.

Ironically, the 10-minute documentary, which was developed by the music industry and will be distributed for free to all high schools in Australia, has been designed so it can easily be spread virally across the file sharing websites that also hold much of the pirated music the industry is seeking to eradicate.

Artists featured on the video include Silverchair, Powderfinger, the Veronicas, Operator Please, Jimmy Barnes, Evermore, Gyroscope, Frenzal Rhomb, Grinspoon, Phrase, Human Nature, Mahalia Barnes, Damien Leith, Anthony Callea, Weapon X, Ken Hell and the Dawn Collective.

"The problem with downloading obviously is that it's ruining our industry in a way, because I mean you know artists just aren't making money, record companies aren't making money from it," Lisa Origliasso of the Veronicas says.

Her twin sister, Jessica, says being a musician is a "100 per cent 24/7 full-time job" and while there are lots of parties, most of the time spent at them is consumed by media interviews.

"You're not really able to drink unless you want to look like a trashbag in all of your interviews," she says.

Most of the artists point to the internet as being a hugely positive force in getting their music to as many people as possible, but there is an underlying fear that, financially, the entire industry is in dire straits.

Figures released by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) show that physical CD sales dropped 12 per cent last year to $420 million. Legal music downloads were up 43 per cent to $40 million, but the strong growth has not been enough to make up for the rapidly declining CD sales.

"The internet has been a godsend and a nightmare for the music industry," Jimmy Barnes says.

In the documentary the artists discuss the often gruelling process involved in making an album and downplay their lavish lifestyles, in the hope of convincing people that stealing music is not a victimless crime.

"I don't think [that] just because you're signed to a major label means you're going to live like a rock star," Pat Davern of Grinspoon says.

"I don't think we live a rock star life at all. We're still paying the rent just like everybody else," Zoran Trivic of Gyroscope says.

Two of the bands featured in the film, Human Nature and the Veronicas, were included on BRW's Top 50 Entertainers list, published in July last year. They earned $1.9 million and $1.7 million over the previous year, respectively.

Appealing to the public's good nature could be seen as a last resort after other strategies to combat piracy have failed. Taking individuals to court has resulted in little more than a public relations nightmare for the music industry in the US, while attempts to convince Australian internet providers to disconnect the services of illegal downloaders has been met with strong resistance.

"I'm not going to deny it. I have downloaded music in the past and it's only when you start being in a band you actually realise how sort of damaging that can be," says Amandah Wilkinson of Operator Please, a band which owes much of its success to effective viral marketing over the internet through channels such as MySpace.

"There becomes a point where you've gotta make X amount to be able to continue, you know, unless you want to be an old mate that lives in Byron Bay and sits in his hinterland shack and just plays an acoustic guitar," says Silverchair drummer Ben Gillies.

The documentary was funded by the major Australian music industry bodies but it is being spruiked by ARIA's anti-piracy arm, Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI).

High school students are the target audience but the documentary is also available for viewing online at Its licence permits free non-commercial distribution and MIPI general manager Sabiene Heindl said the industry planned to distribute it "as widely as possible" through avenues such as YouTube.

Heindl said she had no objections to people seeding it to BitTorrent download sites, many of which the music industry is trying - with limited success - to shut down because they contain vast stores of pirated music.

The documentary is not yet part of a structured anti-piracy program in schools, but Heindl said it was formatted to fit neatly into existing units, such as the "Music for Free?" English unit created this year by the Commonwealth Department of Education, which examines the ethics of file sharing.

It could also accompany the "All Right to Copy?" unit on copyright, developed this year by the Copyright Advisory Group of Australian Schools and TAFEs.

The NSW Department of Education and Training said in a statement it welcomed school learning resources that complement the NSW curriculum.

Coldplay to give fans free taste of new album

Coldplay is jumping onto the free download bandwagon, for a limited time at least, to promote the first track from its upcoming new album.

Starting Tuesday morning, the hit British band's new song, Violet Hill, will be offered as a free digital download from its official website for one week. The song will be released on a conventional, for-pay basis starting May 6.

British fans can also pick up a vinyl copy of the single for free in the May 7 edition of U.K. music weekly NME.

Violet Hill is the first song off of Coldplay's new 10-track album, Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends, which will hit stores June 12. The album is the band's fourth studio effort, a followup to 2005's smash X&Y.

The Grammy Award-winning band also announced on Monday plans for two free shows in June timed for the new album's release: one at the London Brixton Academy (June 16) and a second at New York's Madison Square Garden (June 23).

Details about the upcoming shows will also be revealed on the band's website.

Over the past few years, several major music acts have moved away from the more traditional sales and release model.

Prince caused an uproar in the U.S. several years ago by announcing he would give away a copy of his new album to each person who bought a ticket to one of his concerts — something he has continued to do for several releases now. He also infuriated U.K. music retailers last year when he permitted copies of his newest album, Planet Earth, to be distributed for free in the Mail on Sunday newspaper, before it was officially released in stores.

In October, British rock icon Radiohead shocked the music industry by debuting its newest album, In Rainbows, as a digital download on its website for whatever price fans chose to pay (including for free) before eventually releasing a physical CD.

Though Radiohead was not the first band to offer a new album digitally with optional pricing, the British group is seen as the highest profile recording act to do so. The move is said to have influenced other musicians, from Nine Inch Nails to Madonna, to sign non-traditional music distribution deals.

More recently, R.E.M. offered a free streaming of its new album on a social networking website ahead of its traditional release date.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Madonna Embraces The Future Of Music

Madonna has never failed to reinvent herself with the times, somehow always managing to stay relevant, and her 11th studio album, Hard Candy, seems no different. Showing she is still with the times, you can catch her new album streaming on her MySpace page four days before it’s official release.

Madge has never made a secret of her distrust of the Internet and music, being very vocal about her feelings over music piracy. On her last album, Confessions on a Dance Floor, she had it streamed over AOL, but with some colorful comments inserted in to each song to ruin the tunes for anyone who might be inspired to try to steal them and release them over the torrents. This time she seems to have skipped the comments, I am only on the fourth track as I write this, which is amusing since there is a complicated formula out there as to how you can strip down a MySpace page and download any embedded track you choose. So while embracing the Net, she seems to be not quite as up to speed as she may think.

As Mitch Michaels of 411Mania reminds us, she is following in the footsteps of other bands such as Nine Inch Nails, 50 Cent, R.E.M. amongst others to debut their albums on the popular social network. If it actually helps sales is a difficult thing to measure, but it could also be seen as a rather large gamble to expose an entire work to the public before sales. I must say as each track plays, I am finding myself less enthralled with this particular outing from the Material Girl. The “studio” tracks are fairly obviously cut to be remixed umpteen times by DJs like Tiësto and Paul Oakenfold, so this marketing move may have the exact opposite of the desired effect on me.

This is Madonna’s last album under her contract with Warner Brothers, and from here on out she will be signed with Live Nation Inc., a deal reportedly worth around $120 million. Her next three albums, and all subsequent tours, will be handled by the ticket seller in yet another sign the old school music industry model is falling apart. More and more artists are moving away from the big name record labels, leaving one to wonder what the music business to look like in the years to come. If the likes of Madonna, Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails are any indication, it will be filled with self-promoting artists, deals with non-traditional labels and social networking.

Why You Must and How to Implement a Free Song Strategy

By Bruce Warila

I read most of the music business blogs out there, and I read a lot of comments that readers post on many of these blogs. I believe it’s a common misconception that new-music-business bloggers generally advise artists to give away all their music for free. So, I am declaring my position here, along with guidelines for implementing a Free Song Strategy.

General Comments on Making Songs Available for Free

The day you enable fans to download your songs without paying for them - will NOT be the day you experience a massive spike in traffic. In fact, nothing will change. Those that really wanted to obtain your music for free already did so.

More than 50% of the population will buy your songs if they like your music. Digital music revenue is growing not shrinking. There is no survey or statistical evidence that demonstrates that FANS that share/borrow/demo/steal music will NEVER buy music from the artists they like.

When people get older they have less time to share/borrow/demo/steal music; instead they opt for uniformity and convenience; this is when you will convert the other 50% of the population into purchasers.

There is a lot of dribble out there about the growth of BitTorrent/file sharing and the percentage of demonstration (stolen) music within MP3 players - ignore this. There are bigger picture concerns that labels and artists should be focused on. The only thing these surveys tell me is that a lot of people are test-driving a lot of music.

You are NOT training an entire generation of music consumers that music should be free. You are declaring to the world that you may try my music prior to buying it. However, you should also be declaring that your music is available for purchase on every digital music store on earth. “PLEASE BUY AFTER YOU TRY” should be your message.

It is EXTREMELY difficult to run a profitable business when you are relying upon selling $.99 cent downloads that are sold by stores that take a cut of your revenue; irregardless of your size and popularity. MP3 downloads will NOT be the last digital product this industry creates. If you focus on seizing every bit of download revenue you can obtain, you will be hurting your chances to increase your popularity; which will hurt your chances of selling high-margin digital products when they arrive. Focus on popularity not on selling $.99 cent MP3s.

Reasons Why You Must Make Some Music Available For Free
For a lot people - the MP3 player is their radio, and this is a rapidly growing segment of the population. If you want to be on this radio - you have to make free songs available for download. You cannot expect people to buy your music until they are fans of your music.

Falling in love with songs is a complex process; although widgets help, it rarely happens by listening to songs played through a widget that is tied to the Internet. In a recent post I use this equation: Listeners * Frequency * Conversion Rate = Fans. If you have a few minutes, you should read this post.

Read the rest here...

iLike becomes major factor in digital music universe

One criticism that’s often leveled at contemporary music fans that utilize the Internet for their music enjoyment is the notion that they aren’t as devoted or interested in the art form as their predecessors. But Ali Partovi, the CEO of the social music discovery service iLike, disputes that contention and says that the rapid growth and acceptance of iLike only reaffirms how much interest young people today have in all types of music.

“The one area where we were seeing a lot of room for development and growth in terms of music and the Internet was in the area of social interaction,” Partovi said. “We saw the opportunity to get fans who enjoyed particular artists or genres in touch with each other, and generate more interest and communication between them. That in turn creates more interest in music and in my view is a very healthy development.”

iLike now has more than 25 million users. It has emerged as the dominant music discovery service and also the main music application on such social networks as Facebook, hi5 and Bebo. They will soon be launching applications on MySpace and Orkut. Partovi is in town today as a featured speaker at the Leadership Digital Music Summit at Belmont.

This year’s Summit is the fourth annual, and is being held at the Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business. The number of people attending has grown from 400 in 2005 to 600 last year, and Leadership Music this year is partnering with the Nashville Chamber of Commerce to handle the increases in attendance and programs. Partovi is among 24 speakers presenting conference sessions.

Ted Cohen, managing partner of Tag Strategic, LLC, is serving as the conference’s strategic chair. Jay Frank, senior vice president of music strategy at Country Music Television (CMT) is chair of the programming committed. Curb College Dean Wesley Bulla and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean are offering a welcome and opening remarks for the all-day conference. The complete schedule and registration information is available at digitalsummit.conference. org.

Among iLike’s many services are links to iTunes and to purchase music, and Ticketmaster to buy tickets. Such artists as Dave Grohl, Will Ferrell, U2 and Jason Mraz have videos or other items available on iLike (which is a free service and available at Whenever artists post songs or video messages, or write blogs, they immediately syndicate the content to their fans not only on iLike, but also Facebook, their sidebar for iTunes and Windows Media Player, hi5 and Bebo and the just launched iPhone application.

Also available are Artist Newsfeed bulletins each time performers post new songs and video or issue new discs. Customized, local concert information is also available. iLike can identify the artists that users like, and tell them when they are coming to town and where they are playing. Based on listed musical preferences, it can also show users when of their friends are going to various concerts.

“What we’re doing with iLike more and more is personalizing and expanding the musical experience,” Partovi said. “Our research shows that the people who use our service purchase 250 percent more music within the first month after they’ve been on it, as well as being heavy affiliates of both iTunes and Ticketmaster. So I think that iLike is creating more demand for music, and getting more people to buy music, and that’s something that is now a major concern of the music business.”

Phil Collins Quits Music Business

If you missed Genesis reunion tour last year you likely missed your last time to see Phil Collins. The legend told the Times of London that he is done touring and releasing albums. The 57 year old did say he will continue to write, however, as he doesn't know how to stop his creative side from coming out.

Collins, along with the band Genesis that he famously fronted after Peter Gabriel left the band, sold more than 100 Million albums during his career. The Genesis reunion tour, which nearly saw Gabriel join his former band mates after a 3 decade hiatus and some bad blood, was welcomed with positive reviews worldwide. Many longtime fans had hoped that there was more to be had but it looks like Collins has pulled the plug on that from happening.

Crime pays for music biz with new Grand Theft Auto

When "Grand Theft Auto IV" reaches stores on Tuesday, the latest chapter in the wildly popular and controversial videogame franchise will make history on several levels.

First, it will have the largest soundtrack of any videogame. Second, it will be the first game that lets players tag songs in the soundtrack for subsequent purchase online.

And should it meet early sales forecasts, the handiwork of Take-Two Interactive Software's Rockstar game studio could break single-day and opening-week records, not to mention potentially becoming the best-selling game of all time.

Taken together, these feats make "Grand Theft Auto IV" the most important videogame release for the music industry since "Rock Band" and "Guitar Hero III" on promotional and financial levels.

While the latter two games, released late last year, use music as the central gameplay element -- allowing gamers to play along to the included songs using special instruments/controllers -- "Grand Theft Auto IV" is a more traditional game, but still one in which music plays an important role.

The more sophisticated that videogames get in terms of storyline and presentation, the more important music becomes to setting that tone, and the music industry is demanding higher licensing fees as a result.

More so than most videogames, the "Grand Theft Auto" crime series has used music to establish the tone for each installment's storyline, setting and era. The plot for "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" was set in a Miami-like city circa 1985, featuring a soundtrack of '80s classics straight out of "Miami Vice." "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" fast-forwarded to the late '90s, in a setting resembling South Central Los Angeles and with a hip-hop-heavy soundtrack to match.

"Grand Theft Auto IV" brings the franchise back to its roots -- Liberty City, a fictionalized version of New York -- this time in present day. While the developers spent more than three years visually capturing the neighborhoods and people that inhabit this surrogate city,

Rockstar Games music supervisor Ivan Pavlovich and his crew spent the last year-and-a-half compiling the soundtrack that brings it to life, contacting more than 2,000 entities across four continents to secure the necessary music rights.

"We've really paid attention to what goes on in New York City and I think we really captured the music of the entire city, from different ethnic and social groups to different tastes of music," says Pavlovich.

Music in the "Grand Theft Auto" series is split between several radio stations organized by genre, which gamers choose when they enter one of the many vehicles that serve as the primary gameplay experience. Each station is like a mini soundtrack of its own, allowing gamers to tune to their favorite every time they enter a new car.

To help reflect New York's diverse music scene, Pavlovich enlisted the help of several area DJs to produce or act as hosts for the stations.

Fans of dance/electronica have Electro-choc, hosted by Francois "K" Kevorkian. Punk fans have Liberty City Hardcore hosted by Murphy's Law vocalist Jimmy Gestapo. Nigerian artist Femi Kuti spins international funk on IF99, while Ukrainian superstar Ruslana hosts the Vladivostok FM channel of Eastern European pop music.

MassiveB label owner/producer Bobby Konders, who hosts a reggae channel in the game, went to the trouble of flying to Jamaica and revoicing several existing songs by the original artists to add shout-outs that refer to fictional in-game locations. And DJ Green Lantern produced an entire station with all-original songs exclusive to the game rather than licensing existing tracks.

Although Rockstar won't disclose the exact number of tracks before the game is released, Pavlovich says it will "far exceed" the last installment of the series -- "GTA: San Andreas" -- which holds the current record for most songs in a soundtrack at 156. "Grand Theft Auto IV" features a record 16 music-based stations that generally hold 10-15 songs each. So expect more than 200 songs in the new title.

A soundtrack of that size carries a hefty price. According to sources close to the deals, Rockstar is paying as much as $5,000 per composition and another $5,000 per master recording per track. If that deal applied to all songs, Rockstar's soundtrack budget may exceed $2 million.

That's welcome news to a music industry that has long struggled to convert videogame licensing from a source of mere promotion to one of actual profit. According to Cynthia Sexton, senior VP of strategic marketing and licensing for EMI Music North America, label negotiations with videogame developers have "changed dramatically" in recent years.

"It's changed from videogames as a great way to expose our artists to where music is integral to the game and they're actually willing to compensate us and our artists," she says. "Now that the purse strings have been loosened up somewhat, we can dig a little deeper into our catalog to get interest from artists who may not have been interested before to get involved."

When it comes to more music-driven games like "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band," publishers of hit songs are successfully demanding per-unit royalties instead of flat per-song rates. According to one publisher licensing music for both, rates range from a penny to 4 cents of each game sold, as well as 20% of the net proceeds from new songs that gamers can download that weren't included in the original game.

However, Pavlovich estimates only about 15% of the "Grand Theft Auto IV" soundtrack consists of recognizable hits like the Who's "The Seeker." The bulk of the soundtrack comprises deep cuts and rarities like the Skatt Bros.' "Walk the Night," Jean Michel Jarre's "Oxygene Pt. 4" and Calle 13's "Atrevete-Te-Te."

Those holding rights to these tracks are far more interested in the promotional opportunities that "Grand Theft Auto IV" brings than the upfront cost.

"Reggae and dancehall is kind of underground," Konders says. "It isn't really mainstream, so this is great exposure. It's a whole new audience . . . Brooklyn and the Bronx are different than Cleveland or Idaho or Dallas. But there are kids out there that like to see and hear new things."

The popular franchise is a massive distribution platform. All past installments combined have sold more than 70 million units worldwide, and 32 million in the United States alone, according to tracking firm NPD Group.

"Grand Theft Auto IV" is on track to continue that momentum. Videogame retailer GameStop won't divulge preorder numbers, but says it was tracking slightly behind that of "Halo 3" last year, which reached slightly more than 1.7 million per month before its September release. Early projections peg first-week sales at about 6 million copies, with as many as 13 million by the end of the year in the United States alone.

"It will probably be not only the most significant entry in the series' history, which is saying something considering how well the franchise has done," GameSpot editor-in-chief Riccardo Torres says, "but also a landmark for this generation of consoles."

What's more, in an industry first, "Grand Theft Auto IV" includes a feature that allows players to tag any song in the soundtrack for later purchase on Amazon. Each tagged song is added to a custom playlist that gamers registered with the Rockstar Social Club social networking service will then find waiting for them on the Amazon site.

Rockstar has tried to capitalize on its soundtracks in the past, with mixed success. The soundtrack to "GTA: San Andreas" -- which was released as a two-disc compilation and a $50 eight-disc boxed set -- moved 33,000 units and 13,000 units, respectively, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The deal with Amazon, however, allows for single-song sales and is the first time that the industry will be able to track the direct cause-and-effect relationship between including a song on the soundtrack and its subsequent sale.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Music and Videos Rule YouTube Searches

According to Compete March samples, visitors search YouTube primarily for music videos and artists. The data is available here:

Top 25 YouTube Search Terms: March 2008

Here are the Top 5 searches done on YouTube:

1. Sex
2. Lil Wayne
3. Low
4. Chris Brown
5. No Air

Can the "long tail" save music?

The traditional record industry is in upheaval, as CD sales slide and illegal downloading continues to climb. Some artists, such as Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails, have been able to make money by taking their music directly to their fans -- offering it on their websites for whatever fans want to pay, and trying to make a living from related products such as boxed sets or signed cover art. But can connecting with fans directly replace the traditional record label model?

Kevin Kelly, the co-founder of Wired magazine, has been researching whether it's possible for artists to make a living from what his Wired colleague Chris Anderson calls "The Long Tail" -- in other words, the niche markets that exist outside of the mass market, which the Web makes it possible to tap. Kelly admits the Long Tail is "a decidedly mixed blessing for creators," however. The phenomenon doesn't raise the sales of most artists by very much, he says, but it does add "massive competition and endless downward pressure on prices."

At the same time, Kelly's theory (which will become part of an upcoming book called The Technium) is that it should be possible for artists to succeed provided they can come up with what he calls 1,000 True Fans. If each of these fans either pays for music or buys other content that is worth $100 or so a year, then an artist should be able to make a living, he argues -- not become filthy, MTV-style rich, but at least make a living. But is that really possible?

On his blog, Kelly describes a letter he received from Robert Rich, a musician who specializes in what's called "ambient" or "trance" music, which is a decidedly niche market. Rich, who had a couple of albums that sold well in the 1980s, says that he has been able to support himself by marketing directly to his loyal fans -- but just barely. And, he says, it is a lot of work, since he has to do all of the technical and production work (he can't afford to pay someone) and then has to drive himself around to play for small groups of fans here and there.

"If it weren't for the expansion of the Internet and new means of distribution and promotion, I would have given up a long time ago," Rich says in his letter. "In this sense, I agree wholeheartedly that new technologies have opened the door for artists like me to survive. But it's a constant struggle." The musician describes how he is "my own booking agent, my own manager, my own contract attorney, my own driver, my own roadie. I sleep on people's couches, or occasionally enjoy the luxuries of Motel 6."

In the end, Rich says, he continues because he is devoted to his art, and says that while the Internet makes it somewhat easier, the end result is the same as it has been for artists for generations: "Starving artists will probably remain starving, although perhaps with new tools to dig themselves a humble shelter; and as in the past, some of these artists will use those tools to build sand castles or works of great art."

MySpace Launches 1000 Outside Apps

The MySpace Application Gallery has now officially launched. Since the beta launch in March, MySpace has added more than 1,000 approved outside apps. The apps come in a variety of categories including music, politics and causes, quizzes and polls, and video and have been installed 2.1M times.

All approved applications have their own profile page similar to MySpace user pages and the Application Gallery will be accessible to all international users in their native language.

(press release)

Web’s Youngest Rock Star

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Future Pop

CDs are dead, and Korean impresario Jin-Young Park knows it. American music labels could learn a thing or two from the model he's built in South Korea.

Korean music impresario Jin-Young Park discusses why the CD is dead and what music companies need to do about it. See All Video & Multimedia

When prospective U.S. partners ask music mogul Jin-Young Park where he's from, he has a conversation-stopping answer: "I'm from the future."

It's a deft riposte that opens up space for Park, who discovered and managed Asian pop phenomenon Rain for many years, to spool out a string of facts that make record execs weak in the knees. "In meetings with music labels here, they talk to me about releasing albums," says Park. "They can't accept that there's no such thing anymore. Where I come from, CDs are nothing—they're just souvenirs. I tell them, 'Wake up!'"

In South Korea, where Park is building a new kind of music-business model, 80 percent of households have a broadband connection; downloads via both PCs and cell phones make up an overwhelming share of the nation's music market. Download revenue there has soared 422 percent since 2000, to $366 million, while CD sales have declined 83 percent over the same period to just $70 million in 2007. And because almost all digital music is purchased on a song-by-song basis, to the general South Korean consumer, albums have become an irrelevant—even alien—concept.

Ironically, South Korea is in many ways like America—America 40 years ago when rock was big and labels were booming. Back then, like South Korea now, the U.S. music industry was heavily focused on live performance, the release of hit singles, and the active cultivation of loyal fan bases through direct promotional activity. It's the artist as brand: In Korea, consumers don't buy music; they buy a product relationship that reaches across every media platform and entertainment genre.

Take Park's most recent phenomenon, the Wonder Girls—a quintet of winsome teens whose addictively breathy vocals and synchronized dance steps have taken Asia by storm (their song "Tell Me" was one of the bestselling singles in Asia last year, and the band has generated about $5 million so far for Park's company, J.Y.P. Entertainment, with only half of that coming from music sales). Fans of the group can buy tickets for their live concerts at $110 a pop; purchase a growing array of their merchandise (the names and faces of top K-pop stars adorn everything from $5 phone cards to $500 cell phones and music players); download ringtones featuring their songs ($2); and even make bids on a charity auction for a dinner date with the girls on the popular social-networking site CyWorld (five fans paid between $3,800 and $6,000 for the privilege last year). And if all that's not enough, fans can always tune in to the Wonder Girls' reality TV series, now in its third season as one of MTV Korea's top-rated programs.

Read the rest of the article here..

How To Get Band Sponsorships & Endorsements

I heard Tish Meeks on a Madalyn Sklar teleseminar and I thought she was fantastic so I wanted to share.

Learn how to get sponsorship deals!

Proven methods for getting big name companies to take you and your band seriously as an advertising vehicle for their products

Tish Meeks is well-known in the independent music community as the feisty front person of Texas Party Punk band, 3 Kisses. In addition to live music performance, Tish has worked with numerous bands across the US providing motivation, education and support to help them further their music careers.

"Tish is a marketing monster. Her dedication is exceeded only by her ability. The fact that she has gotten so many excellent sponsorships for 3 Kisses is a testament to this. These are not just some esoteric ideas from some writer in an ivory tower that doesn't know how to implement on their own. What you're being told -- these are down-in-the-streets, nitty-gritty instructions on how to get sponsored. Take the lessons given in this book to heart, because they work."

- Robert Stuckey
Texas Independent Musicians, Director

Get your copy at

TuneCore Pays $1M In January Fueled By Indie Artists

Many digital distributors are still trying to find their footing, but one outfit seems to have found its own indie sweet spot.

Customers of earned $1,059,527.23 in January, 2008, marking the first time the revolutionary digital distribution service has helped musicians generate over $1 million in a single month. TuneCore customers have now earned a total of over seven million dollars from digital sales of their music.

Tunecores revenue growth is in part being fueled by big names like Bjork, Nine Inch Nails, Keith Richards and Jay-Z, But according to the distributor unsigned artists are earning the majority of the revenue generated.

Two examples of artists thriving under the new paradigm:

In just two weeks in January, major label refugeee Josh Kelley sold 18,000 copies of his album 'Special Company,' and over 47,000 additional individual songs, earning him over $135,000 via Tunecore. Kelley hit #7 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart, and #27 on the magazine's Top Independent Albums chart.

Meiko has sold over 100,000 songs since November, 2007. Her self-titled album reached #35 on the iTunes Store Top 100 Albums chart and #1 on the Folk album chart. She was recently featured as an iTunes Store Indie Spotlight artist and Best of 2007 Spotlight artist.

Meiko said, "It's amazing to think that only a few years ago, it was pretty much impossible for an unsigned artist to have their music available to people worldwide...(and) I don't have to chase them down to get paid!"

Meatloaf and Tiffany Have Some Fun in AT&T TV Spot "Paradise by the GoPhone Light"

I thought I would share it with you. It's a high energy production, and for once Meatloaf looks like he is having a good time in this take- off of Paradise by the Dashboard Light.

Music biz wary of satellite radio merger

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - There's only one Howard Stern, but music formats offered by satellite radio broadcasters Sirius and XM frequently overlap.

So a long-gestating merger of the two companies -- expected to be approved by the Federal Communications Commission in the next few weeks -- would initially mean duplication of content. But radio industry insiders anticipate that much of that redundancy will be eliminated once the deal is finalized.

Some have speculated that reducing redundant formats could enable record labels to better target their promotion resources toward one station. But in general, most of the label promotion representatives polled by Billboard -- especially those specializing in niche formats -- think fewer stations means fewer promotion opportunities.

"It's great that their combined (channels) will have a larger audience but it's also at the expense of the exposure," Virgin Records VP of promotion Dave Reynolds says. "It takes away 50% of my chance of being exposed correctly."

Brad Paul, senior VP of promotion at Rounder Records -- a label whose bluegrass releases benefit from the 24/7 national exposure they get from Sirius and XM -- doesn't like the idea of one less national outlet. "If the argument were being made that it's a good thing because I could economize my effort, heck, I'm not about economizing my efforts, I'm about having opportunities to get these artists' music exposed to as many listeners as possible.

"Both networks offer different ways to feature and launch a new project," Paul says. "I feel good about having both those options to go to."

Sirius and XM, with a potential combined audience of more than 17 million subscribers, have downplayed consolidation of channels, instead focusing on a la carte plans and packages that will allow subscribers to maintain their subscriptions with one service while choosing from the best of the other. But in any such consolidation, duplication of services is often the first thing to go when companies are looking to cut costs.

Read full article here....

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mötley Crüe to debut new single on Rock Band

As far as alternative music distribution channels go, it looks like music games are the new internet. Last autumn, Metallica hinted that they would premiere the first single from their forthcoming album as a Rock Band download. Now, aging LA rockers Mötley Crüe have beaten them to it, announcing that their comeback track, Saints of Los Angeles, is to be immediately available on Xbox Live and will arrive in two days time on PlayStation Network. Rock Band owners (in the States, of course) can purchase the track for 99 cents and then play along with their heroes in EA's music game.

"Revenue Opportunities Abound In Online and Mobile Music Distribution"

Last year, digital sales accounted for 10% of all music purchases, up from 6% in 2006. According to In-Stat's research titled "Revenue Opportunities Abound In Online and Mobile Music Distribution," digital music purchases will keep growing and within 4 years, they will account for 40% of overall music sales.

In-Stat points out two key factors that will drive the growth: global expansion of broadband availability, and growth of full-track downloads to mobile handsets in markets other than Japan. As for the obstacles, the research company argues it's the digital piracy, lack of interoperability between services and devices, and weak consumer demand for subscription-based services.

Here are a few nuggets from In-Stat's latest research findings:

* Dollar sales of online digital music increased 48 percent between 2006 and 2007 to reach $3.05 billion last year

* Digital sales are expected to account for 40 percent of all music purchases worldwide by 2012, up from just 10 percent in 2007 and six percent in 2006

* Revenue for worldwide full track mobile downloads will reach approximately $4.2 billion by 2012

* The majority of respondents who accessed online video (72.3%) in 2007 did not pay for the video they saw from the Internet

More information is available on In-Stat's website.

Mariah Carey Projected To Sell 500,000 Copies In Debut Week

Mariah Carey is bringing back hope to record companies with the release of her new album “E=MC²”. Her sales projections of “E=MC²” are over 500,000 copies in its first week.

After her album promotion with television appearances on “Oprah” and “American Idol”, the singer is poised to make another #1 debut. Mariah has already broken records with this album, by tying The Beatles with her eighteenth #1 hit on the Billboard charts.

The album’s music appeals to a lot of genres such as Pop, R&B and Hip-Hop, but some of her songs also include Gospel and Reggae beats for example on “Cruise Control”. On “Side Effects” she speaks about her marriage to Tommy Mottola, describing it as a “private hell”, the “emotional abuse” she saw during this time and the side effects she still suffers from.

British newcomer, Leona Lewis, is expected to come in second place with her debut album “Spirit” that was released last week.

“E=MC²” is currently available in stores and at online retailers via Island Records.

Digital Promotion Is Today... And Growing / Madonna "4 Minutes" Video

Madonna - 4 Minutes

Internet users in the U.S. officially watched more than 10 billion videos online in the month of February alone. That’s according to the comScore Video Metrix service.

On a related subject, Madonna just made her first straight-to-YouTube video. What was she waiting for? Maybe to decide where she would come down on copyright and copycats? What do you know: She’s in favor! But maybe - just maybe - it's more about letting her fans enjoy the work she does, celebrate her freely in the web because what it all comes down to, is this: free promotion. Not a bad thing because all in all her fans benefit, she benefits, the hype around her benefits, and that leads to her album sales benefitting - either digitally or physically, it doesn't matter. Everybody wins. Warner Bros. might have something to say about that though, especially after her new album Hard Candy, all the singles, videos and tour is behind them. Plus we must not forget the next follow-up, Madonna's final greatest hits compilation under her long-time label. The grande finale between Warner Bros. and the pop icon who - against the majority of assumptions - became the best-selling female performer in the world, among many other things.

When the fairytale is over, however, Warner Bros. is unlikely to let the chance go past without cashing in. Quite in contrary, Warner Bros. will most likely keep a close eye on their rights to profit from the unbelievable back catalogue Madonna leaves behind - of course she will also be profitting from her creative fruits through her copyrights.

Madonna is making smart business moves, looking on to the future and expanding the avenues through which she can reach the public - so it is quite understandable she is not against people who freely celebrate her via the web. Naturally, there is a great concern over the on-going copyright enfrightenments in the music business. But when the music along with other products including videos, seem to go on digital sale before the physical appears, it is highly unlikely that public video making is allowed to any material that is in sale digitally co-sidedly. With "4 Minutes", Warner Bros. showed just where they stand on this. The videos were yanked down repeatedly and even videos that had nothing to do with the new material, were being yanked down as well. Now it is allowed, with the consent of Madonna herself - but only after the inial "ka-ching". After all, music business isn't called business for nothing. Even if it is a creative field, it's still a big money making machine - not a charity.

Another interesting note, regarding the numerous videos people have made for Madonna's new single, is this: before Madonna's message appeared in You Tube, the endurance of Miley Cyrus' video for "4 Minutes" was unbelievable. Even though at the same time Warner removed just about everything connected with the song or any new Madonna material for that material, they left this one untouched. The act speaks volumes. Miley Cyrus' video gathered 950,000-plus viewers and while the amount of views might be partially explained by Miley Cyrus' presence, the promotional value was much greater than a video created by an average You Tube user. This is ultimately the reason why it was not brough down with a 'copyright enfrightenment' message accompanied. After all, how could they have not known about it when everyone else talked about it? Maybe the video got Warner's approval? Maybe - maybe it just marked the turn of a new promotional strategy?

For those who want to attract attention or promote their services or products, You Tube has become a marketing platform. Just this week it was announced that one You Tuber who had produced a series of videos and managed to acquire great following, was approached by the big players who wanted to invest. The idea behind it was that by investing in the projects, they could have a "commercial" either at the beginning or at the end of the video. It seems You Tube is becoming a side-wing for television marketing - not just a tool for the fans to adore their idols or post personal footage or their own creations. As everyone knows who watches television, between shows we are bombarded with commercials to the point that it's starting to feel like harassment. It would not be a surprise if we would start to be exposed to ads and promotional material in You Tube through new deals between businessmen and the You Tube users. It's almost like all those websites out there, with irritating pop-up windows that start to interfere with the main thing, enjoying what one came there for to begin with. While in You Tube you may skip the ads, at least for now, this may not be the case in the future.

If the interaction between those who create professional quality videos and those who want the exposure becomes a growing trend, You Tube might have to start thinking about their resources to deliver for the new market. So far the downloads are limited to short clips but if the ads start to take time from the actual video, it's time to expand the length of footage one can upload for the public to see. If all pieces fit, it's clearly a new way to promote oneself - no matter what the product is.

Madonna - Message to YouTube

Indie Artists - Is Piracy Really Your Problem?

Great post by Derek Sivers: Founder of CD Baby

What’s really keeping you from where you need to be? (It’s not piracy.)

I spoke at a conference last weekend, where a woman in the audience was SO mad about piracy that she was physically shaking, red in the face, tears in her eyes, fuming spitting livid, asking how we can stop this rampant piracy.

I didn’t answer her concern well, but I said “More people are killed by pigs than sharks each year, but because shark attacks are more newsworthy, they seem more prevalent. Piracy gets all the attention, but I don’t think most of you in this room have lost more than $30 to piracy.” (I got a big “Booo” from the audience for this.) “Obscurity is your real enemy. Fight obscurity until you’re a household name, then piracy will be more of a problem than obscurity. Until then, worry about pigs, not sharks.”

The woman got so furious about this that she screamed at me with tears in her eyes, “I HATE YOUR POINT OF VIEW, BUDDY!” (and some other angry things I forget.) From her point of view, piracy was Enemy #1 and anybody ignoring this massive threat was hurting us all.

Read the rest here...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Music 2.0

Music futurist Gerd Leonhard has released a video explaining what music 2.0 is and how the music industry should change to adapt to 'web 2.0' principles:

1000 True Fans Revisited

Juan Zelada gives us his take on Gerd Leonhard’s blog 1000 Ture Fans.

1000 reasons to quit
by Juan Zelada

So I was reading Gerd Leonhard’s blog the other day and one of his posts led to to Kevin Kelly’s raved-about 1000 True Fans article. The article is genius and it’s a very interesting concept, but I think there are some problems in there. If you Google “1000 True Fans” (with the inverted commas to get the exact phrase), you get 98,200 results. If you do the same search but just Blogs, you get 232 reactions and if you narrow it down to one week, you get 21 blog results. What does that tell us? Well, for one it shows that the article hit a chord and Kevin Kelly knows what he’s talking about, but it also shows how quickly information flows through the web.

What does that mean? That everyone is talking about this concept, millions of artists are eager to start their own 1000 true fan base and companies around the world are gonna come up with “The 1000 True Fan” model just for you. Like Calabash, which “is a simple formula to allow fans to microfund working musicians. Calabash is changing the way the world finances music by applying the principles of microfinancing to the music industry”. However, they need cash too so they’re asking fans to fund their project! Which is a great idea but I think that with increased competition, the concept might loose freshness and fans will be increasingly reluctant to fund projects.

In this sense, I see a lot of the problems in this model mentioned by John Scalzi, for example:

Read the rest here...

ReverbNation continues to roll out powerful features for Artists

The ReverbNation network continues to grow steadily. Combined, Artists at ReverbNation reach over 24,000,000 uniques per month via our website, widgets, and applications ( Content deployed from ReverbNation (widgets and apps) is now present on approx. 1,100,000 unique urls, and is being displayed a total of 180,000,000 times per month. Our 160,000 registered Artists have posted 525,000 full-length tracks to the site, growing at around 2,500 per day. And we continue to see Artists signing up at a rate of 500-1,000 per day.

A few weeks ago ReveberNation launched a couple important features, 'Fan Exclusive Songs' and 'Band Equity Score'.

1. 'Fan Exclusive Songs' allow the Artist to give access to full-length streams or downloads exclusively to listeners that become registered 'fans' of the Artist (read: email addresses, demo info, and permission to contact). Initial data suggests that Artists that have designated at least one song as 'Fan Exclusive' have been growing their list of registered fans at a rate that is 600% faster than Artists that are not.

2. Band Equity Score, the score that measure a Band's overall "Brand Value" has really taken off with our Artists. Over 100,000 Artists have taken an interest in this score and begun tracking it. Thats over 60% of our Artist users.

New Features
Conversion Tracking
Tracking 3rd Party Widgets
Widgets for Blogs/Ning
MyBand Application Launched on Bebo

Conversion Tracking - We've been tracking impressions and clicks on web banners for Artists and Labels now for over 5 months. They simply upload any banner image (.gif, .jpg, .png) into their Artist profile and then post the image code we give them to MySpace, their blog, or wherever. We then track the activity and report it back to them in the Stats area of their profile. Artists, and especially labels and promotions companies, have found this measurement tool to be very useful, especially for more established Artists who might have multiple banner campaigns running simultaneously to support a new album, sell tickets, and sell merch, etc. Recently, we've received requests to be able to track the actual conversions created by those banners (i.e. sales). So we've built in conversion tracking. Think 'Google Analytics Conversion Tracking' simplified down for the music industry.

This feature tracks conversions that occur after the 'click-through' on any web banner, and reports them to the Artist inside the ReverbNation Stats area. Conversions can occur anywhere on the web (they don't have to be at ReverbNation), and can even be used as the 'Mission Goal' in our Street Team feature for Artists. i.e. "We'll give out back-stage passes for anyone that brings in more than 5 ticket buyers."

Artists who want to use conversion tracking simply grab the conversion code we supply to them and paste it into the appropriate 'success' page that follows the desired conversion activity. Conversion tracking helps us close the loop for our users, tying our Fan Relationship Management and Promotion solutions directly to desired outcomes (conversions).

3rd Party Widget Tracking
- Artists employ a variety of widgets from different companies to achieve their online goals. As you may know, the ReverbNation Street Team function allows Artists to make deployment of widgets the 'goal' of the missions they give to their most rabid fans to carry out.

"Spread our new single all over the web by posting this music player widget to MySpace, blogs, etc, and we'll give an autographed CD to the three fans who make the most postings".

We've had lots of feedback from Artists saying that they wanted to be able to use widgets from other companies in their missions (Eventful, Slide, Zazzle, YouTube, etc). Up until now, Artists have been limited to using only ReverbNation widgets. So we've built a function that tracks these 3rd party widgets and reports the data back to the Artist. Now they can make missions like "Spread our YouTube video" and we can track the 1st generation placements and impressions against the individual Street Team members who are responsible.

Widgets for Blogs/Ning - A recent article has suggested that blogs are a surprisingly important source for music sales. It was high time we made some widgets that were a custom fit for blog sidebars and Ning sites. This week we introduced 3 widgets that are tailor made for those sites - a music player (with store links), show schedule (with ticket links), and fan collector (join the mailing list). Many of our Artists have waited patiently for this.

Here is a live example of someone using the widgets:

MyBand Application for Bebo

MyBand, the leading Artist application at Facebook with over 265,000 installs, has been made to work on the Bebo network. ReverbNation is going to take over the UK!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Distributing music independently online

From Klaus Heymann for CNN

"What is a viable business model for distributing music independently via the Internet?"

Independent labels have several options when it comes to distributing their recordings online.

Regardless of what option they choose, a label should create its own digital files (WAV files that can be converted into other formats) and its own meta data -- it's not rocket science and a label knows its own content better than any third party.

Nowadays, it is very important to coordinate digital and physical marketing and advertising. Therefore, if a label has good physical distribution internationally, it should first try to work through its own network of distributors, provided they have the necessary experience and the right connections with their national digital service providers.

National distributors can create meta data in their local language, which is essential in markets such as Japan, South Korea, France, Germany and Spain/Latin America. Their distributors also know which albums to promote, or they can create special digital compilations aimed at their market.

If a label does not have good physical distribution, or if its distributors are not active in digital distribution, it must determine whether or not to use one or more aggregators (digital distributors).

Before making that decision, it is important to analyze which digital service providers (download sites) can actually sell the label's recordings. While aggregators can push content to a large number of digital service providers (DSPs), only relatively few may be able to actually sell the label's recordings, and the label may actually be able to deliver its content to these DSPs itself.

Otherwise, the label should look for specialized aggregators, which either specialize in the kind of music the label is selling or which cover specific territories. It might make sense, for example, to use one aggregator for North America and other English-speaking markets; another for French-speaking markets; another for Spain and Spanish Latin America; etc.

Some international aggregators are now setting up offices in overseas markets to establish better relations with local DSPs, but that's still very rare.

Working with different aggregators or supplying content directly to 10 or 20 DSPs may not be easy, but a label should only give its catalog to a single worldwide aggregator as a last resort -- it's like handing your worldwide physical distribution to a single exporter.

And even if a label works through an aggregator, it should still involve its national distributors so that they can benefit from or contribute to the digital marketing.

Top 10 Mistakes Bands and Musicians Make

In a recent blog post David Hooper author, music marketing guru, and the host of Music Business Radio. Outlined the the Top 10 Mistakes Bands and Musicians Make on his blog

10. Being Too Difficult (or Too Nice)

First of all, let’s get this clear... Just because you wrote a few good songs and recorded them, doesn’t mean that the world revolves around you. Lots of people write and record good songs, so get in line.

Contrary to what the online rumor mill or media would have you believe, people in the music business are involved because they love music…and they’re not making enough to deal with jerks. And they won’t deal with jerks. If you’re a pain, they’re just go to the next guy, who also writes good songs, but has a better attitude.

With that said, don’t be too nice. You don’t have to say yes to everything. Pick your battles. If there is something you really feel strongly about, don’t settle for anything less.

Bottom line: Keep your ego in check and behave with courtesy and respect. At the same time, don't let anyone treat you any less.

9. Trying to Convince People of Anything…

You play music; you’re not in the convincing business. Either people get what you’re doing or they don’t.

So, some reviewer, booking agent or manager doesn't like your new album. Let it go! Don't try to convince him he'll like is better after a second listen. He won't. And the more you press him to give your music another shot, the more he’ll remember how annoying you were. This means he’ll be far less open to ever listening to you again.

There are a lot of people who won't "hear it" when you approach them. So what? Move on. There are plenty of other people in this business who can help you. Go find the people who do "hear it" and put your energy into building good relationships with them instead.

8. Looking for Industry Approval

There was a time when the "industry" had a lot more pull when it came to breaking an artist, getting them distributed, and everything else. This is a new time, so we're playing with different rules now.

Distribution is easy. Every day, more and more albums are being sold digitally, so you no longer need a label to finance pressing tens of thousands of physical albums (or more) and getting them to record stores.

These days, recording music is easier than ever. You can get a good
recording setup for just a few thousand dollars. And if you can't afford recording equipment, there are plenty of people who have some, whom you can hire inexpensively. You are not limited on the number of options for getting something on tape.

But most importantly, once you get this stuff together, you don't need the industry to tell you your music is worthy. The consumers, the people who buy your music, are really the only opinions that matter. And when you have the love of the consumers, the industry will come around.

The thing is, in the music industry, technology has changed faster than mindset. Stop believing you are at the mercy of any record label executive. You're not. Connect directly with your fans--on your terms. The feedback, loyalty and money you receive from them will be far more gratifying than you spending your time beating your head against a wall trying to figure out a way to get an approving nod from a record label.

Read the rest here....

Wednesday, April 9, 2008 Says Full Song Streams Sell Music features shareable music, thousands of artists and an active social community releases stats todat that its says proves that free on demand full song streams have a direct impact on sales. Since this additional service launched on the site in January, overall CD and download sales through's partnership with increased 119%.

Alongside an increase in overall visitors, which has spiked since the site started offering catalog access, says the jump was also fueled by existing users purchasing 66% more albums and tracks than they did prior to the launch of free-on-demand music. also has affiliate deals with iTunes and 7Digital...

but no figures were released from those partnerships.

These affiliate deals enable users to buy both CDs and downloads from a catalog that includes all four majors and thousands of independent labels and artists. Affiliate links on the site’s music players allow users to click through from any song they’re listening to and buy individual tracks or full albums from any of those partners.

According to Martin Stiksel, Co-Founder, this demonstrates that giving users free access to streaming songs encourages music purchasing. "In just over two months it's become clear that people will buy CDs and downloads if they get access to the kind of service we offer. No one else can give music fans this amount of music for free — but more importantly also drive their discovery, as we do through our unique recommendation engine. That’s why people are sticking around on — minutes spent on site are up 118% month-on-month — and discovering new music to listen to and buy."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Why Every Artist Needs a Blog, by Kyra Reed

Blogs in Plain English

"Back in the days before Myspace, most bands relied on emails and shows as their only avenue for staying in touch with fans. Today, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the number of technologies artists can use to build relationships with the public: social networks, Twitter, blogs, texting, the list goes on. To fully take advantage of these tools, a band needs a central online location to syndicate its presence across the web; one place fans know they can visit for the latest information, photos, press, tour dates, etc. A website has historically filled that role, but most are already outdated. Traditional sites just don’t allow for social interaction or easy updating of information (“content management”). If you are ready to retire your website or are thinking about launching a new one, a blog can provide a useful (and CHEAP) format for building out your online presence. Here’s a few bullet points to help frame your thinking about how to leverage the millions of fans and industry connections out in the blogosphere..."

Read the rest... [Here]

Kyra Reed got started in the music biz managing Portland, OR, bands Stars of Track and Field and The Upsidedown. She currently is a New Media and Interactive Consultant working with bands, venues and labels all over the U.S. Kyra's new eBook, Blog101, is written specifically to help artists navigate their careers online.

Use YouTube to Promote, Promote, Promote.... It's Powerful

Are you using tools like YouTube to promote your music and songs? If not, why not?

Included below is another wonderful example showing you how powerful YouTube and other Broadcast websites can be for you.

Chris Cendana posted a basic home computer recorded music video of his song "Velvet Fingertips" on February 11th of this year (2008). That is he posted it just under 19 days ago. During that short time, he has had 126,938 Views, 1,454 Comments on it, and had it marked by people as one of their Favorite Videos 1,396 times. Now in April the count is up to 502,913 Views and 2,797 Comments and Favorited 3,289 times.

Chris is now hosting a contest for the best cover of any of his original songs. The prize an ipod Nano a small price to pay for the word of mouth this will bring him.

"Velvet Fingertips"

Cover Chris Cendana Contest... Win an iPod nano!

Musicians Look to TV for Boost

According to Nickelback, “We all just want to be big rock stars.” But in today’s music industry, it’s not just sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll that launch an artist to stardom.

For a musician to become a star, they must be able to navigate the ever-changing terrain of music consumption. This includes using traditional techniques such as touring, self-promotion or an appearance on a hit movie soundtrack (think “Juno”), as well as utilizing television commercials, reality shows and hit sitcoms.

Some of the most successful artists in the past few years, like the pop stars from the Disney Empire, have established fanbases from television.

It’s almost impossible to avoid the sugary pop that Disney markets so successfully. Disney Channel shows have become megahits among tweens, and this success has carried over onto the music charts. The “High School Musical” soundtrack shot to No. 1, making it the first television soundtrack to claim that spot since the “Miami Vice” soundtrack in 1985. Similarly, tickets for “Hannah Montana” star Miley Cyrus’ Best of Both Worlds Tour sold out in minutes, and the tour added 14 dates due to popular demand.

These two Disney Channel creations have become phenomena many critics find mystifying, and meanwhile the tween demographic seems to be defining pop entertainment.

Likewise, alumni from the reality show “American Idol” have stormed the charts. Carrie Underwood’s debut album, Some Hearts, scored the idol five Grammys, while Chris Daughtry’s first single “It’s Not Over” was one of the top 10 most played songs on the radio in 2007.

Despite the huge success of some, “American Idol” simultaneously seemed to be in trouble. Former competitors like Taylor Hicks, Katherine McPhee and Ruben Studdard were all dismissed from their respective record labels, and, for the first time in its six years on the air, the show’s ratings declined. Simon Cowell, the vituperative critic, said in several interviews that if the talent did not improve, the show would have to come to an end.

But this season, ratings have improved and contestants like David Archuleta and David Cook are receiving rave reviews from critics and music industry insiders alike. The show may be able to create stars on the level of Kelly Clarkson yet again this year.

But not all artists need a starring role on a TV program to achieve mainstream success. A recent trend in music promotion is the placement of songs in commercials. Previews for the third season of “Grey’s Anatomy” propelled The Fray’s “How to Save a Life” to No. 3 on the Billboard charts. Similar chart-climbing success occurred for Sara Bareilles’ “Love Song” and Feist’s “1234” following advertisements for Rhapsody and Apple, respectively. Ingrid Michaelson saw her album, Girls and Boys, jump to the second most downloaded album in the country after her song, “The Way I Am,” appeared in an Old Navy commercial.

The unavoidable truth is that artists both new and old must cultivate a significant audience from a variety of media. Many established bands have embraced the sorts of innovative promotions that have catapulted young artists to the top of the charts.

Take Radiohead, which released its most recent album, In Rainbows, essentially for free on its website months before selling it in stores. R.E.M. now releases rough, unfinished studio recordings on its homepage. Even Madonna first released her new single, “4 Minutes,” as a ringtone download in Europe.

So if you have dreams of becoming a big rock star, you have a couple options. Either you can increase your popularity through word of mouth via YouTube and MySpace, or you can establish a television audience with a Disney Channel sitcom, a spot on “American Idol” or a Gap commercial.

That sounds pretty easy.

MySpace introduces music distribution

MySpace, the world's largest social networking website has formed an online music venture with three major recording companies in a challenge to Apple's dominant iTunes Music Store.

Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group have minority stakes in the new MySpace Music venture.

Under the agreement, MySpace Music will offer free music and video streaming supported by advertising, paid for MP3 downloads, ringtones for mobile phones, concert ticket sales and merchandise.

MySpace will integrate its 5 million music artist profile pages with a range of new commercial services.

"This gives a great new lease of life for the download market," said Thomas Hesse, Sony BMG president of global digital business, in an interview with Reuters.

Sony BMG is jointly owned by Sony Corp and German media group Bertelsmann AG.

He said MySpace Music could eventually offer a "premium subscription" service, but gave no details and said it was up to MySpace to make that decision.

Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey said MySpace Music was the right step for music companies, but noted, "Apple will not be affected for the first few years because Apple's iTunes store lives on the strength of Apple's devices."

He added, "One implication of this is that Apple may decide to improve its store experience, but I don't honestly see it trying to compete as a social network."