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12 Quick Tips to get More out of Soundcloud

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:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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“…
  4. 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.)
  5. If you regularly play larger gigs with headliners, add your SongKick URL for gig postings that automatically add themselves to your page.
  6. 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.
  7. 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)
  8. 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..
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Return the love. If someone leaves a great comment on your track, reply with a thanks.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.

Value Proposition

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?

Know ⇨ Like ⇨ Trust

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.

The Power of Social Proof

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 😉

12(K) Principles

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.

Vital Visual Impact

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?

I absolutely love Prison Garde’s no-nonsense approach to the visual element (as he also acts as a curator for Catalog Gallery).

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.

A Quality Artist Page in Minutes

Having a home page for an artist is a necessity. You need to have somewhere you can send fans and potential fans to get a vibe for what you’re about, and have access to your music. It’s almost 2012 and I think only a percentage of producers and performers have this nailed. I was hoping tumblr would fill this need, but I find it more useful for updates and photos and perhaps not ideal as a hub for all your info. Facebook pages have become bland, uninteresting, and are not particularly customizable. Myspace is dead. If you still have an account delete it now. If you’re good with html or CSS etc., then you can build your own page with code, but not everyone knows tech, and I assume most artists would rather be making music then testing scripts. Enter flavors.me.

Not too long ago while browsing Twitter, I’d come across sub|division’s Eames’ page flavors.me/kevinehman that he has linked in his bio. His page is pretty bare bones, but gives a quick idea about what he’s up to, his personal style, and most importantly – links your to his vital pages easily and cleanly. You may be thinking “Ugh, another thing to sign up for”, or “I don’t need any more social networking, thank you”, but there’s no real maintenance required and it really only takes a few minutes to get something looking good. It’s such a quick and easy process there’s really no reason not to set one up.

“Flavors allows you to create a gorgeous website in minutes, bringing together social media updates, photos, videos and more into a unified web presence.”

Part of the beauty of flavors.me is that there is the option to load feeds from particular social media streams automatically (Facebook / Soundcloud / Twitter feeds, and so many more). This means that when you click on my Twitter button, my feed pops up right on the page! Same goes for even lesser known or used sites such as last.fm or Vimeo. You can have a feed load automatically when someone arrives. This integration seems smooth and uninterruptive.

A few notes:

  • Minor HTML is available, such as bold, italics and linking for your bio
  • You can upload your own background (and change where the text layout is accordingly)
  • There is no advertising or pop-ups. Your site is clean and without unnecessary tabs, bars, or other crap
  • In addition to social media streams, you can add any RSS feed as well
  • $20 a year gives access to advanced features, but they are not at all necessarily for a functional and eye-pleasing page
  • The upgrade allows for a custom URL, such as “www.rhythmicon.com” I believe (assuming your address is available)
  • You can also be sneaky and purchase a domain name yourself (often for less than $10 a year) and then route it to your flavors page.

Have a quick look at one I set up today:

flavours.me/rhythmicon

Note: There are other sites that provide similar services such as about.me. I was actually going to write about it first before I came across flavors.  After using both, I found about.me be a bit faster to set up and more intuitive, but flavours.me certainly has more options and is highly customizable (though also blocks advanced features until you pay for an upgrade). It took me about 3 minutes to set up with about.me and about an hour with flavours.me get everything right (although you can do one with less time). You could try both for free though and see what works for you 🙂

Watch a quick 2 min video on it and go set one up!

If you have any thoughts, suggestions, or would like help setting up a page: leave a comment below. Heck post your own 🙂