All About Online Music And Social Networking

The music industry has been revolutionized by the internet and social networking.  From what I can tell, bands have either used social networking to help them blossom into internet sensations, or not been able to get their break online.  This post is about the use of music in the social network and some tips on getting the most out of your online presence.  Here you will find wisdom from guitarists in the industry that have done their best to adapt to the online music world.  Enjoy it, learn from it, and see if there are any changes you can make to your own site to secure your online fame.

Online social networking

One of the most popular questions that arose when social networking became popular was this, “Does having a strong social media presence mean we don’t need a website?”  I found an article that does a good job of providing an answer here at http://www.guitarworld.com/dear-record-label-does-having-strong-social-media-presence-mean-we-dont-need-website.

In a band? Have no idea how to go about getting a label to take you seriously? We’ve got the answers you’re looking for.

In our new series, “Dear Record Label,” we went to Roadrunner Records — home of Slipknot, Rob Zombie, Opeth, Megadeth, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Trivium and more — and asked them the tough questions that young bands should know the answers to. Each week, we’ll be bringing you advice from members of the Roadrunner staff to try and get you on track to get noticed.

Q: Does having a strong social media presence mean we don’t need a website?

A: Jon Satterley, Senior VP New Media & Global Business Development: Like any kind of brand building/marketing strategy, the answer has to be “it all depends.” Most bands find it easier to quickly launch a Facebook page and update it (as well as find new fans) than to go through the (potentially daunting) task of creating a artist.com website. However, there are many compelling reasons for starting out with your own domain and band site, then utilizing social networks as recruiting tools for your own “world.” Namely:
1. You own your band site. You control it. Social networks have been known to come and go (MySpace, anyone?) whilst unique URLs are pretty much permanent. What’s more, there is value in gate-keeping content; where else but your own site can you make things “exclusive” and reward the loyalist of your fans?

2. These days, artist websites can be built in tandem with a solid social-networking strategy and presence. Allowing people to log in to your website with their Facebook credentials and (for instance) comment on news stories can allow you to leverage the power and appeal of Facebook whilst still keeping your fans at your own site, enveloped by your branding and message.

3. Building a customized band website on your own artist-named domain is easier than it has ever been. Just go to tumblr.com and get rolling, or try tried-and-true content management systems such as Blogger or WordPress. Most of these services play nicely with the social networks, enabling you to do the stuff mentioned in point 2 above.

Ultimately, the equation should not be either/or. The best thing to do is to roll out a web/online presence for your band that harmoniously utilizes the social networks and your own site, with the ultimate goal of making your band site the premium place for your fans to converge and enjoy your content.

Guitar with online networking site in background

Hopefully you have picked up on the theme that there is a lot more to being a successful guitarist beside playing.  Networking is a big part of music culture as it builds a fan base.  Take a look at this article that stresses the importance on networking at http://www.guitarworld.com/down-and-dirty-g-love-networking-and-just-getting-out-there.

So, you’ve stomped your foot till your shin splints swelled, ran your scales till your fingers were raw and bleeding, sang your songs till your voice was hoarse and gone and you still have the energy to propel your career?!?

Damn, kid, you’re gonna make the big time. But the question is: What to do now that you’ve obviously been focusing true blue on the music. You gotta keep it going, boss.

You’re gonna make the big time, kid. Welcome to the world of social networking. Are you ready to embrace the future?

In 1992, I moved from Philly to Boston to give a life of music a go. I was playing a lot. Working as a street musician had me playing in a performance setting for two-to-eight hours a day. On top of that, I was practicing and writing diligently on the porch or in my room for another two to four hours a day. Bottom line is that I was trying to make it. All I had was my music, and I was spending all my time perfecting and developing my craft.
There is power in repetition.

Things were happening for me, but as disciplined and dedicated as I was to my practice and writing, there were often those times when I was done. Enough was enough and — creatively, physically, spiritually and mentally — I needed a break.

During these moments away from my guitars and notebooks, I would focus on activities to propel my name, reputation and music. Looking back, what I was really doing was an early form of social networking.

I would spend many hours in Kinkos on Dartmouth Street in Boston making stickers and flyers. I would sticker the shit out of the T, the clubs, the venues, street signs and parking meters. All the stickers said “Special Sauce.” I was just trying to get my name out there. Be somebody. Get as many “followers” as possible. “Graffiti” was the original Twitter.
Flyers were going up on every bulletin board, in cool stores, college dorms, hotel lobbies, coffee shops and music stores. Flyering: the original Facebook.

I was also using my spare time to hustle gigs, make and package cassette demos and bother the shit out of local booking agents begging for gigs until they definitely knew my name.

Back then I was hustling. Now in 2011 we call it networking. It’s easier than ever to hustle … so what are you waiting for?

Nowadays it’s easier than ever to make yourself available to success. With Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Linkedin, iLike and the many other social networking sites that hundreds of millions of people around the world use, you have the opportunity to spread your name, attract people to your shows, create a scene, involve people in your music, post music and video content and make a goddamn name for yourself.

There are no rules. While I’m writing this, people are making shit-tons of money posting videos on YouTube.

Someone just got a record deal. Someone just had a sold out show. Someone just took your spot and they can’t even hardly play but they have a draw and a scene.

You can play the shit out of that guitar, now spend a bit of time mastering the art of getting your music into the public. We all have egos and we all have aspirations. No one wants to play the Ramada lobby the rest of your life, right? Get online and get yourself out there. It is 2011. There are no excuses, there are only opportunities.

If computers seem daunting to you, I call bullshit. Learn. If you say you don’t have the time because it will cut into your practice, I call bullshit again! You can Facebook while you’re taking a crap. If you think computers will infect the purity of your jazz or Delta blues, I call extra bullshit. If your music is deep, then nothing is going to infect or upset the vibration you are making in your basement.

I’m so sick of seeing amazing players and performers — just truly gifted musicians — sitting on the sidelines playing shitty local gigs and not going anywhere in their career because they are too stubborn to network, hustle and get themselves out there.

I always say, the people who make it big in this business are not just great musicians, they are great musicians that have the vision, discipline and energy to get them propelled to playing in front of thousands of people. Great musicians deserve to be heard. Great musicians deserve to get paid. Are you a great musician? Then do the work away from your instrument to make your career … sing.

I’m writing this because I love you and you need an ass kicking. Now go pickup a computer and practice.

Guitarist with laptop computer for social networking

The internet has brought with it a new sense of creativity for online music networking.  The following article features a band that has had online success with their music.  Check it out to find their insight here at http://www.futureofmusicbook.com/2011/07/27/words-of-wisdom-from-roger-mcnamee/.

My friend Roger McNamee, a founding Partner and Managing Director of Elevation Partners has been getting some great press lately on his thoughts on the new music business, investing in technology, Apple, Google, Facebook and much more.  Here is the transcript of a speech he gave at NARM earlier this summer, a must read.

“Our band – Moonalice – is inventing new opportunities in music. We would like you all to join us.

I have been a working musician for more than 30 years, and a technology investor for 29 years. I have played about 1000 concerts over the past 15 years, which means I have personally experienced everything in Spinal Tap except the exploding drummers. I also spent three years helping the Grateful Dead with technology and many more advising other bands, most notably U2.

My band is called Moonalice. We play 100 shows a year in clubs and small theaters, mostly on the coasts. Moonalice was the first band broken on social networks. What broke us was 845,000 downloads – and counting – of the single “It’s 4:20 Somewhere.” We’re the band that Mooncasts every show live, via satellite to thousands of fans on iPads, cell phones, and computers. We’re the band that has a unique psychedelic poster for every show. After four years, Moonalice has 371 poster images from the likes of Stanley Mouse, Wes Wilson, and David Singer. Licensing those images will eventually a big business for us. We’re the band that offers the EP of the Month for $5. And we’re the band that uses the latest technology to radically improve both the production cost and commercial value of the content we produce. Now I’m looking for people who want get on this bandwagon with me.

The first question I hope you ask is “Why now?” The world of technology is beginning a period of disruptive change. The old guard – represented in this case by Microsoft Windows and Google search – is under assault and hundreds of billions of dollars may become available for new and better ideas. I hope that gets your attention!!!

The biggest beneficiaries of this disruption should be the people who got the short end of Google’s business model, especially creators of differentiated content. For the past twelve years the technology of the internet has been static. Every tool commoditized content by eliminating differentiation. The most successful companies monetized content created by others. Google was king.

I believe Microsoft and Google are about to get a taste of what the music industry has been dealing with for a decade. Their world is going to change and they won’t be able to stop it. Not so long ago Microsoft’s Windows monopoly gave it control of 96% of internet connected devices. Thanks to smartphones and tables – especially the iPhone and iPad — Windows’ share of internet connected devices has fallen below 50% … and it will fall much further in the years ahead.

Consumers are abandoning Windows as fast as they can. I expect businesses to follow suit.

This is a HUGE deal. Businesses whose employees use smart phones and iPads instead of PCs will save up to $1000 per employee per year in support costs.If corporations buy fewer PCs, they will save tens, if not hundreds of billions per year.

This is happening because today’s strategic applications – email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other internet applications – don’t need a PC . . . in fact, they are far more useful on a phone.

Microsoft has been in trouble since it first missed the web in 1994. Then it was unable to prevent Google from taking charge in 1998. When Google showed up, the World Wide Web was a wild environment. No one was in charge. The prevailing philosophy was “open source” . . . and free software.

Google had a plan for organizing the web’s information that treated every piece of information as if all were equally valuable. To create order, Google ranked every page based on how many people linked to it.

What we all missed at the time is that by treating every piece of information the same, Google enforced a standard that permitted no differentiation. Every word on every Google page is in the same typeface. No brand images appear other than Google’s. This action essentially neutered the production values of every high end content creator. The Long Tail took off and the music industry got its ass kicked.

Google captured about 80% of the index search business, which gave it a huge percentage of total web advertising. Google’s success eventually filled the web with crap, so consumers began using other products to search: Wikipedia for facts, Facebook for matters of taste, time or money, Twitter for news, Yelp for restaurants, Realtor.com for places to live, LinkedIn for jobs. Over the past three years, these alternatives have gone from 10% of search volume to about half.

As if all this competition wasn’t bad enough for Google, then along came Apple with the iPhone and App Store. Apple offers a fundamentally different vision of the internet than Google. Google is about the long tail, open source, and free, but also had to remove 64 apps from the Android app store for stealing confidential information. Apple is about trusted brands, authority, security, copyright and the like. In Apple’s world, the web is just another app; it is called Safari.

People who have iPhones and iPads do far fewer Google searches than people on PCs. The reason is that Apple has branded, trustworthy apps for everything. If they want news, Apple customers use apps from the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. If they want to know which camera to buy, they ask friends on Facebook. If they want to go to dinner, they use the Yelp app. These searches have economic value and its not going to Google, even on Android.

When Apple and the app model win, Google’s search business loses. Like Microsoft, Google has plenty of business opportunities, but the era of Google controlling all content is over. Consumers compared Google’s open source web to Apple’s app model and they overwhelmingly prefer Apple’s model. Software development and innovation has shifted from “web first” to “iPad first” . . . which is a monster long term advantage. Get this: Apple may sell nearly 100 million internet connected devices this year!

Apple’s strength can be seen best in the iPhone vs. Android competition. There are many Android vendors. Together they sell more phones than Apple does. But Apple gets around $750 wholesale for an iPhone. The other guys get between $300 and $450. This means Apple’s gross margin on the iPhone is nearly as big as its competitors’ gross revenues. Game over.

The other thing that makes Apple amazing is the iPad. No electronic product in history – not even the DVD player – can match the adoption rate of the iPad. Apple may sell another 30 million this year. At this point, the competing products have not put a dent in the iPad. Image what happens if Apple’s share of the tablet market remains closer to the iPod (at 80%) than to the iPhone (20%)?

This sounds like, “Game Over, Apple wins” . . . but it’s not . . . at least, not yet. The open source World Wide Web has finally responded to Apple. A new programming language has come to market called HTML 5. HTML is the foundation of the World Wide Web. For the past decade, HTML has been static, which allowed Google to dominate.

HTML 5 is a new generation of HTML and it changes the game fundamentally. It allows web developers replicate the iPhone experience, but with many extra bells and whistles … and no App Store. One reason HTML 5 matters is because it eliminates Adobe Flash, which has been an inadvertent barrier to creativity.

Creativity enables differentiation. Differentiation can be monetized. Huge differentiation can be monetized hugely. With HTML 5, creative people can now use the entire web page as a single canvas. For the first time in a dozen years, web pages will be limited only by the creativity of the people making them. They can create experiences that will be more engaging to consumers and more profitable for advertisers than network television.

New forms of entertainment will emerge. New forms of business. Companies the size of Facebook and Google will develop in categories I can’t guess at. Companies as important as Amazon, iTunes, and Netflix will emerge to support what new content comes to market.
Whether you view Apple as friend or foe, HTML 5 offers real opportunity. Why?

Because you can deliver a better experience than an app . . . without an app. HTML 5 is cheaper to build, cheaper to support, no 30% fee . . . oh, and the apps perform better, too.
I believe Apple’s best response would be to focus on selling hardware and accept that consumers will demand products that happen to bypass the app store. Based on the argument with Amazon, I sense Apple is not ready to concede the point. That’s ironic, because the only way Apple can get hurt would be if they try to force all commerce through the App Store. The would create a real reason for customers to buy a tablet other than iPad.

Let me review my key points so far:

Google and Microsoft will remain huge, but their influence is evaporating, which means we can ignore them.

Apple is winning big, which means we have to support their platforms first.

For people who make content, Apple is a better monopolist to deal with than Google.

HTML 5 will give you a better product than the Apple app model at a lower cost and with more value.

Now let’s figure out what we can do together. My band Moonalice exists because T Bone Burnett wanted to produce an album of new and original hippie music in the old school San Francisco style. We put together an all-star band with in late 2006 and recorded the album. T Bone was about to win the GRAMMY for the Alison Krauss/Robert Plant album, Raising Sand, so we thought we were made.

We had a budget

We had an A-list PR guy

We had a really fine manager

We had custom label deal with a nice budget

T Bone’s innovative sound technology would make the album cutting edge
Old school music is good. Old school marketing wasn’t going to work for us. About four months before release, I reviewed the media plan with our PR guy. He said, “Sorry, man, but nobody cares.”

A few moments of somber reflection followed. Then, with great regret, I let our manager go. I let our publicist go. I let our label go. For all intents and purposes, we wrote off an album everyone was extremely proud of and which accounted for half of T. Bone’s portfolio the following year when he was nominated for Producer of the Year.

But I freed up most of our operating budget. Real money. And I focused it all on Twitter and Facebook. Our goal was to build an audience of dedicated fans around a Moonalice lifestyle. Three years later, we have 57,000 fans on Facebook and 75,000 on Twitter. We learned a great truth: as hard as it is to get people to spend money, it is much harder to persuade them to spend enough time listening to you to become a long term fan. We traded our music for their time. We discovered we could build an audience by giving away stuff that costs nothing to produce and distribute. These are serious fans who engage with us dozens and often hundreds of times a year.

The first thing we invented was the Twittercast. Before us, no one had ever done a concert over Twitter. Now we have done 103. Our marginal cost is exactly zero. Next we created Moonalice Radio, which has broadcast one song every hour on Twitter for the past two years. Then our drum tech bought a video camera and started recording the shows. Then he bought more cameras, put them on mic stands and started doing live video mixes.

About a year ago, he figured out how to mooncast our concerts over the net for free.

Nearly all of our past 100 shows have been mooncast live on MoonaliceTV and then archived. Because we play mostly late shows on the west coast, only 10% of the audience watches in real time. But approximately 3,000 people watch EVERY show on a time shifted basis. Fans like the Moonalice Couch tour because they can chat, make friends, and do things that are not permitted at a live venue. They even buy Couch Tour tee shirts. And they are helping us create a new ecosystem where most of the music is free, because Moonalice art and life style products have huge economic value.

Thanks to HTML 5 and a satellite dish, Mooncasts can now be viewed on a smart phone without an app. Our video quality competes favorably with the best you have seen on an iPhone, and the technology to do all this costs the equivalent of six months of our former manager. He was a really good guy, but a satellite-based tv network is more valuable.

I want to finish up by recommending a course of action for you

Step 1: Remember that HTML 5 is just getting started, but the learning curve is less expensive and more profitable for those who commit to it from the beginning. The new business is going to emerge over a few years, not overnight.

Step 2: Don’t wait for the labels to figure this out. Labels are not organized to get this right, which leaves a big hole in the new music market where labels used to be.

Step 3: Don’t wait for major artists to figure it out. The great new stuff is going to come from artists who have nothing to lose. Artists who come out of nowhere will create huge value for next to no cost.

Step 4: Make sure you are successful addressing the needs of next generation content creators … not just listeners. There are WAY more of content creators than you may realize. Thanks to Moore’s Law, Karl Marx is right at last: the means of production are in the hands of the proletariat. At the peak, there were 8 million bands registered on Myspace. They weren’t playing gigs, they were creating stuff, mostly for their own entertainment. Those people spent a lot more money creating the content they posted on Myspace than they did on recorded music. Thanks to Apple’s Garageband, the population of people capable of mixing something is now measured in tens of millions. Making these people successful is the key to creating new markets and new music products.

Step 5: Do everything in your power to encourage new product ideas and new forms of content. HTML 5 is a blank canvas and there is no telling what people will do with it. For all I know, HTML 5 may produce five or even ten amazing categories of product.

Contests, prizes and publicity will give you an opportunity to associate yourself with whoever creates the cool new stuff. If you have local stores, do local events. Think Alan Freed.

Step 6: Near term, focus your platform strategy on Apple.

Step 7: Long term, focus on HTML 5. The sooner you commit to HTML 5, the more likely you will produce something of economic value.

Step 8: Remember that HTML 5 will produce companies as important as Amazon, iTunes, and Netflix. It costs musicians practically nothing to create good digital video and fantastic audio, but they need distribution systems optimized for their content.

Step 9: Make music fun again”

Online innovations are constantly being released in the music industry.  Make sure you stay up to speed with social networking to make your music the online success you know it can be.  Mike’s Guitar Talk is committed to proving the best guitar information on the web.  Join the conversation on Facebook now at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mikes-Guitar-Talk/208529755864772.

Have fun and stay tuned!

Mike

Speak Your Mind

*