Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Creative photos can get musicians thousands of hits.

The best marketing plans for musicians can sometimes be as simple as creating a really creative photograph. Something that your fans and potential fans can buzz about, share on instagram, etc ... If you're interested in the band in the photo. Check out Soulcrate Sucka. This photo has almost 3000 comments on Reddit.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Chaka Khan inks deal with Mondo Tunes

This is a huge score for Mondo Tunes, teaming up with music legend Chaka Khan. This deal brings an entirely new level of name recognition to Mondo Tunes by distributing the music of a Grammy Award Winner.

Mondo Tunes is a subscription based distribution service that will distribute an unlimited amount of an artists music for $39.99 per year and they claim to take a 0% commission. As I have said in the past, the subscription based online music distribution services like Tunecore, Mondo Tunes, Reverb Nation and Distrokid are great services for the active musician. If you're not constantly releasing and marketing music, watch out, because the subscription fees could eat up all of your profits if you are only a part time artist. Obviously for Chaka Khan, this will not be an issue, because she will sell and stream thousands of copies are her upcoming single "I Love Myself"

Mondo Tunes also offers Music Video Distribution services (for a one time fee of $249), Press Releases and a ton of other marketing programs. They may have more retail partners than any other company in the world because they use the same digital distribution as Universal Music Group. If you distribute your music on Mondo Tunes, your music will be virtually in every retail outlet that sells music online.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Ultimate EDM Record Label Distributor: Labelworx

So you're ready to form a Dance Music Record Label and get your music into the hands of the top DJ's in the world and dominate Beatport? OK, maybe that's an oversimplification of a pretty serious business venture, but then again, with Labelworx and some really solid music this dream could come true.

Labelworx is a service out of the UK that is the ultimate end to end specialty shop for EDM record labels. Not only do they offer music distribution to every Dance Music retail outlet that matters, but they have plenty of other tools and experience to promote your record label brand to the EDM community. With names like Gareth Emery, Richie Hawton, Darude, Nervous Records, Eric Morillo, Harry Romero, Christopher Lawrence, Louie Vega ... you get the point, you can tell that Labelworx is all about the dance floor. More than distribution, they offer the following:

  • Promoworx - A service for sending music to DJ's and getting reports
  • Royaltyworx - An accounting service to help you pay multiple artists and remixers their fair share of royalties.
  • Mix and Master Services - By engineers that specialize in the sound of Dance Music
  • Demoworx - A demo management service for A&R
  • Web Design Services - The have great web designers that have an eye for the EDM market.
  • Vinyl, CD and Merchandise Production and Management

Labelworx covers a lot of ground and is meant for the serious EDM label only. Their main competitors are Symphonic Distribution and MondoTunes and I'll get deeper into those comparisons in future articles. The bottom line is this ...

Labelworx delivers to over 100 retailers. The list is jaw dropping. All of the usual suspects like iTunes, Spotify and Amazon, but the not so common EDM specialists like Juno Download, Beatport, DJshop.de and more. There are no setup fees and you do not pay for UPC or ISRC codes. Labelworx has commission rates as low as 5% according to this document. I've heard that around15% commission is the norm, but Labelworx is pretty mysterious about the percentage, but they encourage you to contact them on a case by case basis.

In future articles, I'll be comparing Label Worx to Symphonic Distribution and Mondo Tunes, a couple of other services that pay close attention to the EDM market.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Get your next album cover for less than $25. Five creative Graphic Artists on Fiverr.com

If you're reading this blog, you are probably a musician like me, that knows exactly how to spend hundreds of dollars on studio gear, instruments and software, but when it comes to marketing, even the expenses under $100 seem to hurt. Have you ever asked yourself any of the following questions or statements?
  1. I wish I could find a graphic artist for my new album cover that costs less than $300 and will actually give me something I want.
  2. I am broke and I need an album cover, but I don't know anyone.
  3. A lot of album covers that I've seen these days look cheap and simple, why is that?
  4. I just need a simple album cover for a cheap price, I am broke.
  5. I don't know what I want on my album cover, that's why I'm calling you.
  6. Why do graphic artists take my deposit for an album cover and then disappear for two weeks?
  7. I know I explained to this graphic artist, exactly what I wanted for my album cover, and they made something totally different and now they want to charge me to make changes.
  8. I heard that there are people overseas that are graphic artists that will work for cheap, unlike the spoiled local college brats that are over charging me.
  9. Hello Facebook friends, can anyone recommend a graphic artist for me?
  10. OK, five bucks, I think I can pay $5 to get a cover for my next single, I just need something basic.
Well, I think you've come to the right blog post? Fiverr is an amazing place, where people across the world offer services starting at $5. You can find graphic artists, translators, musicians, SEO web specialists, graphic designers and more. So why did the title of my blog post say “... less than $25?” Because the truth is, at fiverr, the prices for gigs start at $5, but you probably need a few “extra gigs” to get exactly what you need. But before you start comparing fiverr sellers, there are a few things that I recommend you get, no matter who you hire to design your album cover.
  • Get a square version of your album cover that is 3000 x 3000, 300 dpi, .jpg less than 15mb.
  • Make sure that you either have the ability to resize your own image, or you pay your graphic artist to output different sizes, based on the table above.
  • Make sure to get the source file (photoshop, illustrator, or whatever program they used) 
Getting your source files important, because, you may want some small change later on, two years from now and you can't expect your graphic artist to have archived this file. Save yourself from a huge headache later. The following is a list of some of the artwork dimensions that you need for some of the main distributors. You would think that this is an industry standard, but it seems like every distributor wants something a little different.

Distributor Dimensions File Types Accepted
Band Camp 700 x 700 minimum .jpg, .gif, .png
cdbaby 1400 x 1400 .jpg
Distro Kid Not Published / Public Not Published / Public
Loudr.fm 3000 x 3000 .jpg, .jpeg, .png
Mondo Tunes Not Published / Public Not Published / Public
Reverb Nation 1000 x 1000 .jpg or .png
Symphonic Distribution 2000 x 2000 .jpg, .jpeg, .png
Topspin Media 600 x 600 min - 1200 x1200 max .jpg
Tunecore 1600 x 1600 min - 3000 x 3000 max .jpg, .png, .gif

You'll notice, that on fiverr, some graphic artists charge a little extra for each of the three rules stated above, which is why the $5 simple album cover is rarely a viable option. $25 is more reasonable, and depending on the seller, it may cost you up to $50, but keep in mind … most retail graphic artists are charging anywhere from $200-$500 for album covers. Keep your options open.

Here are five great sellers on fiverr that I have found:

Hatimbahia Team from Morrocco

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Rdio goes bankrupt and Pandora buys a chunk

The former online streaming service Rdio has gone bankrupt. I guess they couldn't compete with Pandora, iTunes radio, Jango and all of the other streaming services out there. I liked their concept and name when I first discovered them. I uploaded a compilation of songs to cdbaby back in 2012 for my music group, "303infinity." I earned some royalties ($0.24) over a two year period. Other online outlets were paying 100 times that per quarter, so either it wasn't a very popular station for EDM or it just wasn't very popular. According to billboard, Pandora is buying up some of the leftover assets from Pandora to help create a new Premium subscription service.

Check out this billboard article for more info.

A link to Rdio's farewell message.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Bandcamp Platform: Selling directly to fans is the name of the game.

Established in 2007, Bandcamp gives independent artists a full store, to sell digital downloads, subscriptions and merchandise directly to the public without any setup fees. It's a straightforward concept that is uniquely customized for the independent musician. There are many companies out there that focus on distributing music to the top global retailers (iTunes, Amazon, etc … ) Bandcamp is not one of them, focusing more on direct sales and fast payments to the artist. Digital sales on Bandcamp are deposited into your paypal account within 48 hours minus their 15% commission. This feature can be incredibly useful, considering payments from iTunes or Amazon, filtered through your digital distributor (cdbaby, Tunecore, etc …) can take 3-6 months to finally wind up in your bank account. Also, if you are running some kind of marketing campaign, you can see fast results which will let you know if your campaign is effective or not.

Bundling physical merchandise with music or concert tickets is very smart. Your digital music downloads can become a kind of 'value add' when bundled with physical merchandise. Your customers probably won't mind paying $25 for that cool t-shirt you designed if the are getting a free 5-song EP with it.

Dealing with customers directly, having the ability to save all of their information for future use and having very little “Bandcamp” branding to deal with, are all huge advantages to using this service. Reverb Nation was notorious for putting huge Reverb Nation logos on every little thing website, link and widget you used. Reverb Nation has improved a lot, but Bandcamp is the opposite. They allow you to customize your header and background so that you can brand your Bandcamp store like your own website.

Bandcamp also has a cool feature, where you can give away downloads on their website in exchange for customer email addresses. This feature is not as cool as the Topspin Email for Media Widget, but it's still very useful for collecting data.

Bandcamp has been around for almost a decade and they are well established. Their website boasts that fans have spent $137,000,000 USD over the last nine years on their site. That is a staggering number which is almost half of the GDP of the nation of Palau.

I created a Bandcamp page for 303infinity long ago, but never really promoted it. I think I'll set it up with some music and merchandise and post about my experience in a few months. It is hard to ignore such a powerful tool that I feel should be used simultaneously with a distributor that reaches the major digital music retailers.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Topspin Media “Email For Media” Widget is pure genius.

Topspin Media is a service for musicians and filmmakers that has been around since 2007, according to wiki. When I started looking for ways to promote and sell my music in late 2012, Topspin came highly recommended from a friend. He told me that it was a cutting edge tool that major artists and labels were using and is now available to lowly peasants like myself. At first, it all seemed too good to be true. They offer a customizable store, where you can sell merchandise, digital downloads and concert tickets in one interface and get direct deposits to your bank account for $9.99 USD per month and a small commission (15% Sales Fee.) All you have to do is embed the code on your artist website. Pretty amazing and straightforward without a bunch of Topspin branding everywhere. Unlike using a distributor that helps you get onto iTunes, Amazon and the big retailers, when you sell direct with Topspin, you get to actually keep the emails of your customers, which is a great feature. Direct email marketing is so important that the creators of Topspin created another tool that is included in the monthly subscription price, called the “email for media” widget.

A “widget” is an application, that enables a user to perform a function or access a service. The Topspin “email for media” Widget is a little app that offers fans a free song download in exchange for their email address. You can customize and post this widget on Facebook or on your own website. I knew a band that did an interview with a local online blog, and was allowed to embed their widget at the bottom of the article. They collected 335 emails from that one interview during the first three days. Email addresses are, by far, a more effective direct to fan marketing tool compared to social media “followers.” If you are serious about staying in touch with your fans, this widget may be one of the most effective tools to convert those social media contacts into direct email contacts.

In my opinion, Topspin is a great service for an artist or band that is serious about music and is actively marketing, playing shows and recording. Eventually, Topspin is where you want to be when your band is geared up and running on all cylinders. Collecting email addresses at the shows and selling bundles of merchandise, downloads and tickets could lead to serious money. Check out the "What is Topspin?" youtube video, it is very informative.

As with all subscription services, eventually the subscription costs start to add up. So if creating music is a part time hobby, and you're releasing just a few singles per year, you probably want to go with a service that has a “one-time” setup fee to distribute your music with like Symphonic Distribution or CDBaby. Or, if your funds are really low, Loudr.fm will put your music on top retail sites with no upfront costs at all. (15% commission on the back end.) I feel like Topspin would be able to attract more entry level artists, if they offered the “Email for Media” widget with the free account for your first 500 email addresses. This would give entry level musicians an opportunity to “grow” into being a full Topspin Media subscriber. There are actually three levels of Topspin subscription services that are offered.

Reverb Nation's Fan Reach program has a simple widget called Fan Collector, which does not offer free media for download like the Topspin widget. However, you can collect up to 500 email addresses from fans with this simple tool, which can be embedded on your website or on Facebook for free.