While many of us virtually live on Soundcloud, I’ve recently realized through several conversations that a number of people don’t necessarily use it that often unless they are posing a track/mix, or sent there for a download. Personally I thing it’s a very valuable tool to become proficient with. If you take a little time to learn the ins and outs (and make use of it briefly every day or so) you can find an increasing wealth of fresh tracks as well as drive traffic to your own music. This list is by no means exhaustive (email subscribe to Sound Movement for more updates in the future), but it gives a few ideas to get more out of the service, especially if you don’t already frequent it. Here we go:
- It may seem obvious, but follow more people to have them show up on your dashboard (the main wall that tracks and comments show up on). You may find it useful to follow the artists that artists you enjoy are following (ie: look at who you follow, follows.)
- Search for, and start following relevant groups (ie: search “jungle“), to have their tracks show up on your dashboard. I will sometimes indiscriminately follow a number of groups or artists, then later unfollow those that post unsuitable tracks.
- Use “advanced search options“. After you use the search bar in the top right corner of the dashboard, click the “Show advanced search options” and if you like, specify things like genre, tempo, or that “Tracks should be downloadable“…
- Search for remixes. Popular new track just drop? Chances are it’s been remixed. Use the advanced option to hunt for edits and bootlegs. (Take this tip with a grain of salt – you will sift through 90% garbage, especially with pop-ier remixes, but may just find a gem hidden among the trash.)
- If you regularly play larger gigs with headliners, add your SongKick URL for gig postings that automatically add themselves to your page.
- Upgrade your membership and it will allow you to send tracks to more groups you are a part of (easy way to share your music with thousands instantly!!!) Thx to Grasp the Erro on this one.
- If you’re going to buy a premium account, use coupons from here and save a couple bucks (%25 off is nothing to sneeze at)
- Make checking your dashboard a habit. Seriously. Just take 5 minutes everyday after work or whatever, click on “Incoming Tracks” on your dashboard, and scroll through what’s fresh until you see yesterday’s tracks..
- Show some character. Go to Settings > Advanced Profile and in “description”, post a short bio (no one reads more then a paragraph), write something silly or leave an email for bookings. Be sure to add your website and Facebook page, etc. here too.
- Comment & favorite more. While I actively discourage you from directly asking other artists to listen to your tracks in their comments, this does not mean that you shouldn’t comment at all. If you like a track, leave a comment or click “add to favorites”. While it is by no means guaranteed that they will check your tracks in return, they are many time more likely to notice you if you do leave a tasteful comment. And you can go back and check your favorites later to see about releases and perhaps download links if you like.
- Return the love. If someone leaves a great comment on your track, reply with a thanks.
- Just Listen. Bottom right hand of the player? There’s a little icon shaped like a cartoon speech bubble. Click it to turn off comments to be able to scroll through faster and easier on popular tracks. Thx to Outsider on this one.
- Oh, and make sure your tracks are properly tagged
Boom! Let us know if any of these work for you, or if you have a tip you’d like to share! Thanks for the comments and reposts.
A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered and a belief from the customer of value that will be experienced. – wikipedia
This week I came across a post on http://yakezie.com entitled “What Makes Your Website Different?”. The point applies to musicians as well. We live in a world that is growing increasingly connected, and we are up against more and more competition. To be effective building a strong audience, you need to define who exactly it is that you’re trying to get your message to (as a musician this may mean a particular genre or a particular audience) and what exactly makes you worth listening to over the next guy?
The following is a 0-5 rating system borrowed from Marketing Experiments that is in reference to websites, but also directly applies to your music website. Take a moment and think of your website / Soundcloud / Bandcamp, etc. (you have one right?):
0 – No real value proposition (a full-price retail product that can be bought anywhere).
1 – Limited value to a small market. There is extensive competition and/or few barriers to entry.
2 – Substantial value to a medium-sized market. There is limited competition and/or significant barriers to entry.
3 – A product or service with strong product differentiation, but little competitive protection.
4 – A unique product or service that is highly valuable to a large market, and strong competitive protection and/or extensive barriers to entry. This may take the form of a registered patent or limited access to product components.
5 – A unique product or service that is highly valuable to a large market, and exclusive or near-exclusive control of essential product components. This may also include a registered patent.
Take an quick but honest look at your music website and consider:
- What value are you offering to your audience?
- Is your music or performance actually different (unique), and can you communicate that clearly?
- Do you know who it is that you are trying to reach (“market”)?
- How would you rate your website?
There is a very particular process that building a successful, long term relationship with your audience goes through. If all goes well for you, the process looks like:
Know ⇨ Like ⇨ Trust
First someone knows about you,
then they like you (or what you do)
then they trust you (and your work).
It’s virtually impossible for it to go any other way. People can’t like or trust you unless they know you first. And do you think that someone would really trust you if they didn’t like what you are putting into the world?
Lots of musicians simply try to gain exposure (know), but a) don’t have a high quality brand or music (which would enable people to like easier), or b) aren’t consistent enough for people to build trust in their work.
I believe being authentic is at the core of true likability. Don’t bullshit your fans. We live in a different world now. If your act is fake, you will get burned, it’s that simple. Also having a unique and powerfully communicated message (read: sound) is vital. It helps you stand out. But people have to like more that just your music, they have to like you as well.
Trust is a very deep topic to discuss, but for now, it is essential to understand that without trust from your audience, their interest will be short and they will not spread your music in the same way. Consistency is an important factor in the trust equation. Trust is also very easily lost – all it takes is one wrong move.
The process takes time – it doesn’t happen over night. Focus on all three steps for sustainable success.
What do you think? Thank you for all your comments and reposts.
What is social proof? Put simply, it’s the positive influence created when someone finds out that others are doing something. - Aileen Lee
In his highly regarded and best-selling book Influence, Robert Cialdini outlines how to use (and defend yourself against) six principles of persuasion: reciprocity, authority, commitment & consistency, liking, scarcity, and social proof. This week we’re going to take a quick look at the latter in greater detail.
Facebook advertising has done spectacularly well, in part because it shows how many people you know already “like” a page. The more of your friends that like something, the more likely we are to check it out and like it as well. Re-posting on Facebook and Twitter is a great example of social proof – it shows we support something. Make sure any site you run has scripts that make it easily share-able (and in the right places – highly visible).
You may know, one of the main factors in weather someone decides to attend an event, is how many people they know are attending as well. Although the company may be flagrantly evil, McDonalds’ “Over 99 Billion Served” slogan certainly shows it has support. Another prominent example of social proof is the gigantic lineups outside Apple stores on launch days for new products. People love to advertise that they support the brand. Having a brand and product (music in this case) that is high-quality is definitely a pre-cursor to mass support.
Some consider social proof is to be “the new marketing“, and rightly so. You can see here from this study by the Nielsen Company, that “recommendations from people known” ranked highest in trust-ability of all forms of advertising tested:
For me personally, when Skream gave a quote in support of a remix I had done, that quote went on to display major celebrity social proof. Think “If the pros are supporting this – maybe I should as well too, or at least have a look for myself.” Between that, and it charting on Beatport (also social proof), it created obvious support, and that support (think of a crowd gathering, and thus attracting a greater crowd) created even more support. Have a promo list that you regularly send you high-quality finished work to, and don’t be shy to ask prominent artists for quotes of support if they are playing your tunes (celebrity social proof). I even see some people using these on the right-hand side of their Soundloud pages.
Today a tweet from Royal-T had me looking at at Temple Run, an iPhone game. Even while writing this article, I still unconsciously looked at the customer rating (5 star avg. from 306312 Ratings) as a barometer for the value & quality of the game – essentially weather or not it’s worth downloading. Perhaps I am programmed to care if other people care.
A few more examples of social proof in the music industry to think about:
- DJ’s playing your tracks, either live, on radio, or in mixes
- Audience and other artists re-posting your music and activities
- People attending your events in person is major social proof
- (Also, a velvet rope outside a club with a line of people)
- Pre-show posts on Facebook event walls
- Tracks charting on online download sites
- Blogs and music aggregate sites like Hype Machine
- Being included in DJ charts
- User-generated videos on Youtube etc for tunes, uploaded by fans
If you have a great product waiting to be discovered, figure out how to build social proof around it by putting it in front of the right early influencers. - Aileen Lee
The key here is to consciously understand how social proof works, start seeing how individuals and crowds respond to it, and prominently display it – use it to your own advantage. Do not underestimate the power of it. As you see in the above chart, it ranks as incredibly useful. Even if you are a beginner, start using every bit of support you have to build more and more of it – it builds its own momentum. When there’s a critical mass of people supporting something, there’s a certain tipping point where more and more people start supporting because the social proof is obvious.
- Can you think of other ways that social proof influences the music industry?
- How are you currently using it to your advantage?
- How can you start using it to your advantage?
Please repost! Spread the word
A minimal(istic) electronic record label and mastering house “12K“, based out of NYC and founded in 1997, caught my attention this week. In the about section on their website, they describe how they consciously approach their music and the marketplace. They give us “12 Principles Upon Which 12K was Founded“.
I believe that having intention behind what you’re doing and being able to easily communicate your philosophy helps it spread.
Some of these ideas may not resonate with you personally (such as 4 or 7 – I understand and appreciate them but may choose different approaches), but there is value to all of these perspectives. I equally enjoy their music as well as how they tell their story.
“..Trying to create something beautiful, however small, in this oversaturated, violent world that we live in. A small space – a place to breathe.” Taylor Deupree
TWELVE PRINCIPLES UPON WHICH 12K WAS FOUNDED:
1. Don’t tell listeners what they want to hear, let them discover that for themselves.
2. Treat your audience as they are: intelligent, passionate lovers of art and sound.
3. Evolve constantly, but slowly.
4. Stay quiet, stay small.
5. Strive for timelessness.
6. Never try to be perfect. Soul is in imperfection.
7. Simplicity. Anti-Design.
8. Never try to innovate, be true to yourself, and innovation may happen.
9. Explore sound as art, as a physical phenomenon – with emotion.
10. Develop community.
11. Be spontaneous.
12. Everything will change.
What do you think? Leave a comment!
Thanks to @djfractal for passing this along.
As a part of the sub|division fam, a group of West-Coast music lovers pushing forward thinking sounds, we are celebrating our two year anniversary this month. 24 months packed with parties, mixes, tracks, and media coverage and the crew is still gaining momentum and further support. For sub|div, 2 years of content also means we’ve needed a lot of graphic work done. A lot. One undeniable aspect of this success is the consistently high quality branding work done by Carlin @ Cab Design. The identifiable logo, color schemes and fonts are a big part of the glue that holds the brand together (Monolithium being the other major ingredient in the adhesive mix!).
Silent Season is a BC based label that imparts a strong visual impact. Their website (perhaps my favorite ever) and every release feature high quality nature images including beautiful Vancouver Island forests. It feels like there photos they use for their website and releases are so much more than just images, they are an integral part of everything they do. It imparts their ethos.
Even if you are doing a free release, I believe it’s 100% worth it to commission some cover art. I’m speaking for myself here but I’m more likely to check out a track or mix if there’s quality cover art. Perhaps it shows that you value your work. High quality posters raise the pervieved value of events. Using great art that is somehow logically connected to each other creates a sense of consistency. Have you noticed in record stores or online that you can often tell what label a release is on before you read it?
On the topic of design. If you are booking me for a show, and the aesthetic for the print material resembles a psychedelic spirit / shaman disguised as a forest animal / has more than on fluo pantone on a primrary color/ has my name written in weed leaves, or any type of budda/shiva/lion of judah icons, I will not post the information about the show. Forgive me, but I place a great deal of importance on visual language, and do not wish to be lumped into things that I find aesthetically offensive.
With that being said, if you are booking me, and want a tight looking flyer, drop an extra 100 bucks on the booking, send me the copy, and let me handle it for you. I will make it pretty, promise.
If you look at Cabfree’s work for sub|division – your subconscious mind (see what I did there) already knows that it’s part of a body of work even before you consciously identify it.
- Create an impression on your audience before they even listen.
- Hire someone to do your graphic work (let a pro work for you!)
- Consistency, consistency, consistency is key.
This post is not so much a “big up” to efforts of friends, but rather to highlight what is working. Consistent visual branding helps tremendously (thank you Carlin). Don’t miss a crucial aspect of music culture. Look good, on purpose.
There seemed to be a time when Facebook was the Holy Grail for artists and promoters. While it was gaining popularity (and Myspace was dying horribly) everyone seemed to be paying attention. There was a novelty to seeing new events and new artist pages – people were getting excited.
Flash forward 4/5 years, add ceaseless daily updates and invites that became spam and you have a recipe for moaning about FB as a necessary evil and reduced attention from the public. “Attending” counts for Facebook are no longer as accurate as a gauge of actual attending, and people are less active in engaging and sharing on event walls. People mass-spamming tracks on walls gets them “hidden”. Of course Facebook is still considered by many to be a requirement for events and it will not be going anywhere for a while. One of the major problems with the ubiquity of promotion on FB is:
As soon as something becomes predictable to people, our minds shut it out automatically.
People may see a genuinely valuable post, event, track, etc. of yours but it may be consciously ignored or unconsciously filtered out because FB is now so overloaded with consistently irrelevant content. Weather you love or hate Facebook is besides the point. Your goal is to connect with your audience and compel them to take further action such as attend shows, download mixes, purchase your tracks and share your music. Here’s some actions you can take to get your push out to the public:
- List gigs on the info column for Soundcloud through Sound Kick (post if you’d like help!)
- List gigs on your website (ie: local DJ / designer Outsider)
- Hand out flyers in person
- Start a dialogue with your audience on Twitter (ask questions, engage in discussions)
- Keep business cards on you
- Hand out CDs (or even tapes) instead of telling people to DL your mix (many will forget!)
- Send event info to media outlets such as cfuv 101.9 & Monday Mag (on time for cutoff)
- Consider starting a newsletter to regularly update your fans
The key here is to have several routes of promotion you use consistently.
- Try every appropriate approach you can think of
- Experiment – see which ones resonate with your own DNA
- Refine the strategies and methods that work for you and get a response
(Note: I have chosen not to participate in Google+ at this time thus do not have any experience with it, but the agreement online seems to be that it essentially failed in it’s attempt to overthrow FB. Just like any process, if it works for you – use it. They just allowed pages for artists recently.)
What is your experience with promoting on Facebook? What do you do outside of it?
If you are a Victoria or Vancouver resident I assume you know about Habit coffee shops. With two bustling, trendy locations they have positioned themselves as a hip urban place to enjoy a hot beverage and some company.
While standing in line, you will see recycled-paper postcards that tell you part of the story of their business.
“Habit was founded on the idea that coffee can be better – not just in terms of a drinkable product, but in terms of every step that coffee takes – from seed to cup. Before building a location, or making a menu, we worked to find partners that share our vision of ethical, responsible, and community-based business practices and a focus on quality in every detail.. ..We believe that coffee isn’t simply about getting a buzz, or enjoying a flavor, we believe it’s about a culture of optimism, exploration, and communication, and we hope you enjoy the fruit of our collective effort. Thank you.”
After reading that – do you feel more compelled to support their business?
Part of a larger campaign, the card subtly conveys many things, from mastery of their craft to their status as a social hub. Here is more on the intended outcome of the work of their design/marketing team Cargo:
“In advance of opening its first location, Habit Coffee approached (Cargo) to help develop a comprehensive visual identity. To reflect the community-oriented, craft-focused approach to their business (the cafés employ entirely manual equipment, brewing exclusively artisan roasted beans), graphics, typography, and materials were kept deliberately low-fi. To attract a diverse, forward thinking crowd, typography and imagery varies greatly, but each element is infused with a tongue-in-cheek playfulness, and a whimsical reverence for coffee’s connection to contemporary culture.”
As an artist, you tell your story to your audience. You could also think of it as a “picture you paint” for people to view. Where you are from, where you are going, your character and values, your passions, and so much more – are all part of a message that you broadcast to the world. The question is – are you doing it strategically?
The advertising work done for top level celebrities and musicians does not happen by chance. Virtually all the information received by the public is selectively chosen, filtered and amplified to make it as enticing as possible. Take a look through bios, websites, and interviews of high performing producers and performers. Identify the key elements that you connect with personally. What is it in those stories that draws you in? What makes you feel like “Yeah – this guy is like me“?
Take a few moments and consider the story you are telling your audience. Is it unique? Does it draw people in?
(Tip: Getting objective feedback (not from friends or supporters) on your brand can give you valuable insights.)
How can you encourage people to want to be a part of your story?