Category Archives: MP3 & Music Blogs

How to Become a News Ninja Using RSS

RSS has been much maligned of late but still remains one of the easiest and most convenient ways of keeping in touch with breaking news and subscribing to new content on your favourite websites and blogs.

My Overworked Google RSS Reader

Social Media Today, summed up RSS very well here: “using RSS in combination with Google Reader can be a very powerful option if you do content curation or disseminate information to a determined audience. I use RSS very actively as my primary channel for receiving information instead of having to remember every site I have to visit every day to get news.”

RSS Still A Killer App

There has been talk that Twitter and Facebook are replacing RSS as a key broadcaster of news, but thats something of an over statement, RSS is still a key app for me as I curate/read an extensive array of news feeds daily and Twitter is still way too ‘noisy’.

Subscribing to a specific RSS feed in Google Reader is still the best way, at least for me, to stay on top of any key developments in my field of  choosing and certainly in the Music Industry, Tech and Social Media field there isn’t a key name out there that isn’t blogging and syndicating that blog with an RSS feed. Fact.

RSS enables me to skim hundreds of article headlines in minutes enabling me to click only on those that are of key interest to me. This would highlight the importance of writing those killer article titles too!

My RSS Toolbox of Choice

I use the Chrome browser pretty much exclusively these days and there’s a couple of browser extensions I use that enhance my usage of RSS and my content curation in general.

RSS Subscription Extension adds one-click subscription to your toolbar and shows the familiar orange RSS subscription icon when a RSS feed is detected on the website you’re browsing making it an easy click and go to subscribe to a feed.

Postponer Manager is a pair of extensions that add extra function to Pocket (aka Read It Later). The Postponer Adder adds an icon next to every article in your Google Reader to add it to your reading list.

So, if you’re short on attention span or time you can simply click on the Adder icon next to the article you’re interested in, in your reader and the post will be saved automagically on your Pocket page for you to return to and read at leisure. Lifesaver! Sign up free here.

Postponer Adder Chrome Extension

Postponer Adder Chrome Extension

Feedly is basically a news curation plugin of sorts and syncs with your Google Reader to become your ‘Social News Reader’. Basically it does what services like Paper.li and Twylah do to your Twitter feed, turns them into personalised newspapers from content you’ve collected yourself (in this case from your collection of RSS feeds).

My Social Media RSS Feeds via Feedly

My Social Media RSS Feeds seen thru Feedly

You can use Reeder iOS app to sync your Google Reader account to your iPhone or iPad too.  For more tips there’s a great post from last month at Lifehacker that digs around for resources to customise your Google Reader experience here: ‘Supercharge Google Reader with Styles and Extensions’.

I’ve kind of moved away from desktop RSS readers simply because my reader is so busy it was using 70% of system resources at times and slowing everything else down! Not everyone is an ‘info freako’ like me and if you do want to read offline too then Feed Demon is about as good as it gets and syncs with Google reader too. Brill.

Your OPML Starter Kit!

Acronyms you’ve never heard of? We got em! OPML is, in laymans terms is a portable data format with  the most common usage being to exchange lists of web feeds between web feed aggregators. So.

Here’s a quick and easy lesson in how you can use it to move your collection of feeds around (or indeed back them up). I try and export my list of feeds from my Google Reader account monthly at least, then if for some (unlikely) reason my reader settings get corrupted I can simply re-import my original list.

To export your OPML list of feeds (which is actually a very small text file so its quite practical to share via email) in Google Reader go to Reader Settings, then the Import/Export tab then right click and download under OPML download (natch!).

Downloading your RSS feeds as an OPML file in G Reader.

If you have a specific category and want to grab just that collection of feeds, you’d click on the subscriptions title then ‘Folder Settings’, scrolling down to ‘Create a Bundle’ then save. You can see my collections below with several sharing options.

You can grab the OPML and download, email to your friends, get the HTML to post your collection as a widget in your blog or simply add the bundle as a link on your website.

RSS Bundles in Google Reader

Getting Started With Stuff to Read!

Lets assume you already have a Google reader account (and if you use GMail then you do). Here’s three OPML (XML) files for you to download from my own RSS reader account.

Search and SEO (right click and save as..) 36 different feeds,
Social Media  30 different feeds
WordPress  21 different feeds

After you’ve saved one or all of the files, fire-up your reader of choice and go to reader settings, then Import/Export and it’ll ask you to import your subscriptions, select an OPML file>Choose File>Upload and done. You’ll now see your categorised folder in your reader and you have more to read now than you can possibly manage!

Do comment below if you use any particular reader, RSS tool or browser extension that hasn’t got a mention here (and there is many!).

 

Related Reading

Supercharge Google Reader with Styles and Extensions (Lifehacker)
RSS is dead… long live RSS! How to replace your Google Reader shared feed (SocialMediaToday)
Replacing your RSS reader with Twitter + Hootsuite (ItsWorthNoting.com)
The War On RSS (Vambenepe.com)
Will Twitter Replace RSS? (Twitip.com)

10 ‘New Music Industry’ PDFs That’ll Make You An Expert

Now I’ve used the word ‘music industry’ here to encompass anything connected to digital music stuff, music 2.0, social media, whatever you want to call it. Truth is, the keyword today is convergence.

But if you’re struggling to come to terms with new terminology, new technology and new services I did a comprehensive scan of resources you can print out on PDF that’ll really set you up with an information boost if you’re playing catch up and haven’t got the time to dig around.

There’s some fantastic resources out there and some inspirational writers like Seth Godin, Andrew Dubber, Gerd Leonhard, Derek Sivers and even digital distributors Tunecore all offer some brilliant insight and the best news is its all out there for you to grab free as a bird. And legal too!

Music Survival

Promotion

Music Industry Survival Guide This compact PDF guide from digital distributor Tunecore crams a lot into its 30 pages covering college radio promotion, iTunes promotion, street marketing, music discovery, mp3 blogs and press and media tips. Some people actually charge for this stuff. There’s seven PDF guides from Tunecore including a vinyl 101 PDF for bands/artists wanting to press up vinyl records.

Their other guides cover mastering, publishing, copyright and mixing.

The Leading Question-Voice Of The Fans. This survey undertaken by UK digital music industry company Musically was aired at Midem this January. 1300 music fans were questioned across the USA, UK and France.

Continue reading

Get Your Own Pro Blog Running In Minutes For Less Than $20

Hit Singularity have a great article on how to market your band without having to spam MySpace. ’10 Fast and Free Strategies To Market Your Band (Without Resorting To Spamming People On Myspace)’, in it they highly recommend starting your own blog.

“In 2009 the single most powerful bloc of people in the music industry are music bloggers. If you are written up by 40 blogs then your album will sell twice as much as it would otherwise. Music blogs are a far more powerful promotional tool than MySpace.”

So says a study by New York University which you can download as a PDF here

If you’re wanting a bunch of MP3 blogs to approach with a promo drive there’s a list of over a thousand MP3 and music blogs at aggregator Hype Machine.

The Buzzsonic.com blog runs on the latest version of WordPress, which if you didn’t already know is a beautiful piece of open source freeware. You can get one of these on a sub domain via WordPress.com or, better idea, you can host your own WordPress install on your own domain name.

First things first. Buy your own domain name (if you don’t already own one). I’m now using Google Domains, not just because its Google (they actually go through Godaddy anyway) but because the domain (a worthwhile spend of $10) comes preconfigured with Google Apps and email.

You’ll need a webhost next. We use Hostgator, simply because they’re very fairly priced, are reliable and more importantly have great support if something goes wrong. A lot of people make the fatal mistake of choosing a webhost on lowest price and then discover that the only support is via an email address that never gets answered. You get what you pay for.

A typical hosting account here will cost from around $5 to $13 for multiple domain hosting. Another important part of Hostgator’s (and many other hosts too by the way) service is that they use the online website manager CPanel which has a really great add on called Fantastico.

Fantastico is basically is a script auto-installer, so forget any messy FTP uploads of source code. A WordPress install is literally ninety seconds away.

For a more pro look you’ll need to add a nicer looking theme/template to change the WordPress default look. Thousands of freebies around, start here.  We use one from the rather cool Design Disease.

The only other thing we did here was add a few plug-ins like Sociable, Social Homes Widget, the MyBlogLog and Last FM widgets. Most of the other stuff I’ve added using the built in WordPress text widgets which you can drag into the sidebars in the admin area.

And that’s it. Buzzsonic.com cost less than $20 to set-up, the only other cost is time and imagination.

Related Blog Promotion Resources

Fantastico!Installing WordPress in CPanel (Information Marketing Central)
NYU Researchers Study Music Blog Buzz (Coolfer.com)
Does Chatter Matter? The Impact of User-Generated Content on Music Sales (NYU-PDF Study)
Hype Machine Top Music Blogs (HypeM.com)
20 Tips For Pitching Bloggers (TheFutureBuzz.com)
5 Remarkable Things You Should Learn From Music (And How You Can Apply Them To Your Blog) (DailyBlogTips.com)
Tips For Starting Your Own Music Blog (Squidoo.com)
Hit Singularity (Hit Singularity)
100 Social Media Resources For Musicians (GenYRockStars.com)
Social Networks For Musicians (SocialNetworksForMusicians.com)

Viral Marketing Doesn’t Work, Tell Everybody. Music Marketing Pt.2

I wrote about some more ‘leftfield’ music marketing ideas earlier this week and continue here with some more brain storming that may give you some leads.

99th Floor Elevators-'Hooked'

One thing that has really taken off in the last year or so with artists is free album downloads, with high profile artists like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails getting the most column inches.

NIN’s album ‘Ghosts l-lV’ was Amazon’s best selling album of 2008 despite the fact that the album was legally available as a free download on filesharing networks.

It was significant also in that it was released totally free of record label shackles, Trent Reznor instead choosing to use digital music distributor Tunecore to make the 36 tracks available for download.

The band are said to have made close to two million dollars in a week from selling high-end limited edition versions of the album. The follow up album, ‘The Slip’ uses a similar marketing tactic.

Now obviously anyone reading this isn’t going to have that kind of following but artists can still use the same principles on a smaller scale. I’m trying it myself by giving away some of the original dance mixes of 99th Floor Elevators ‘Hooked’ here. A package that includes five different mixes and even the original promo video which you can see just above.

You can get individual mixes (as 192kbps MP3 files) or the whole package as a zipped download. There’s even a Bit Torrent link here. Download and seed.

Does this devalue my old mixes? Well no, its a ‘risk free’ introduction that will hopefully grab some new listeners who’ll be stimulated enough to be interested in the forthcoming newer mixes and also helps keep the name floating around the web in between new material coming out later in the year. People can also head to Amazon to buy other material on CD and download.

I used UTorrent to make the Torrent, instructions you can find here and here. I used Drop.io to host the MP3 downloads, a great straight forward service with no sign up required and no waiting through crappy ad loops that you find on free file hosts like Zshare.com

The message here? Speculate to accumulate to put it simply. Despite lots of negative press CDs are alive and well, vinyl is having a revival, fans ARE still willing to pay for quality music in premium packaging. Ex-Strangler Hugh Cornwall is the latest ‘name’ artist to try this route with his album ‘Hooverdamn’. Where, besides the free MP3 version you can grab the album on various vinyl, CD and DVD packages.

Download the 99th Floor Elevators ‘Hooked’ original remixes and promo video here or here. Or via BitTorrent here.

Contd tomorrow………

Related Research
How To Create A Torrent (Torrent Freak)
A Beginners Guide To Bit Torrent (BitTorrent.com)
How To Make A Torrent (UTorrent.com)
More Bands Oasis, Jamiroquai To Follow Radiohead (Daily Telegraph)
Steal Throwdown’s Music Please (Mashable.com)
Free Music Initiative Has Sparked 119% Rise In Sales (Mashable.com)
Why We’re Releasing Our Latest Album For Free On The Internet (HarveyDanger.com)
Band Recognizes Free, Unencumbered Downloads Are Part Of A Publicity Campaign (Techdirt.com)
Radiohead Shocks Record Industry With Free Download Of New Album (Zeropaid.com)

Off The Wall Music Marketing Tips And Ideas Pt.1

Old School Marketing

My experience of marketing my music was started back in the late 80s I guess when my idea of ‘marketing’ was spending time stuffing envelopes full of cassette demos and posting them off to indie radio shows in the UK, major record labels, venues and indie fanzines.

vinyl-lives

Out of a mail out of around fifty tapes (yes tapes!) we got three positive responses. One was a phone call from Steve Lamacq (now at BBC Radio 1) who was helping out at Radio London at the time on the Gary Crowley Demo Clash show. We were being played on air in London as part of the demo clash show, which we were winning too. The DJs would play four new bands, the listeners would phone in and vote for their favorite.

As a result of that airplay we had some major label interest and a London showcase gig. Nothing came of that band (the archive is on MySpace though) though it was fuel enough for me to pursue other musical ventures with some commercial success in the UK some time later.

hooked

I’d managed to blag my way into some free studio time at a small studio in London by doing some work as a label runner and promoter and as a result we’d secured a P&D deal with a distributor. An unknown artist presenting a new track on a pristine piece of 12 inch vinyl drew more attention than the old method of the cassette tape and it eventually lead to a deal with a Warner’s sub-label.

Welcome To The New School

Killer marketing tactics will only get you so far but if the music isn’t up to scratch all the effort and money in the world is ultimately going to lead to failure. Get the song right and the breakthrough will eventually take care of itself.

Having said that you can help yourself make some noise using the tools available online today. And being a bit clever about it to set yourself apart from the herd.

One of the things I did that helped re-launched my music was to offer up various parts (vocals, hook, Midi file) of two of my tracks for remix. Its nothing new nowadays, in fact its positively de-rigueur. You can offer parts of your tracks up for download on your own site and MySpace or even newer web communities like MixMatchMusic.

With DIY remix culture exploding and related software becoming more powerful and affordable, sonic manipulators are growing hungry for disassembled pop music, and the music industry is beginning to see the benefit of increased exposure through releasing remix stems directly to the public.

Release a limited edition vinyl single. Its going to cost you around $900 for 500 7 inch singles but the prestige that would add to your release would be invaluable. Since the rise of Napster and, later, iTunes, a market for single songs has been reborn, and one of the unintended benefactors has been the seven-inch. Even Sub Pop Records’ famous singles club has been reactivated.

you

Singles are also highly collectible. “The punk and indie-rock undergrounds have always been particularly fond of the seven-inch as a badge of fanhood, something doled out in limited quantities and often specific circumstances – on certain tour dates or on labels available only in a certain region.” (from the Toronto Star)

A DJing contact of mine came up with an excellent idea for sending out DJ mixes of his in an effort to get club bookings (if you haven’t released a 12 inch single that’s kicked up some dust!). Rather than do the usual task of sending out CDs he spent something like $200 on iPod Shuffle’s, put his mix on there and sent them out to promoters. It got an immediate reaction just for the original way he presented himself. He also happened to be a great DJ which helped too of course but the bookings he got back as a result paid for the outlay.

Makeamixa do some great looking cassette USB drives which would be great as limited edition albums or to do a cheaper version of the above DJ tactic.

Other Music Marketing Tipsters

Digital distributor Tunecore have these tips to help you promote your release once you get it placed on iTunes and other major distributors. They’re also doing video distribution nowadays too. They also have a bunch of free PDF marketing guides.

Andrew Dubber’s New Music Strategies give some useful insight with How Can I Sell My Music Online? “There are variations on this theme, but essentially it boils down to this very simple question: now that there’s this internet thing, where’s the money and how do I get at it? What’s the best way to sell music online?”

Tom Robinson explains the answer to the questions, Should I Put My Future Hit On MySpace? and Does Your Music Have Value? on his excellent blog.”The more seriously artists treats their own work the more seriously other people will take it. A series of full commercial releases gives you a better chance of airplay at radio. It also gives you a discography.”

Max Lowe writes, 7 Tips To Writing A Crowd Drawing MySpace Blog, “You must write frequently and often for more than one reason. First, the search engines will pick up your blog quicker and more often if you post every day or two. Second, your readers will return more often if they know there is going to be new content every day.

And I couldn’t write this without mentioning something from CDBaby founder Derek Sivers, in particular his much quoted (worth another mention here), Derek Sivers 7 Rules Of Marketing. “Stop thinking of it as Marketing and start thinking of it as creative ways to be considerate. Think of things from the other person’s point of view”.

We’ll have part two later this week. Ideas and suggestions please leave comments!

Related Links

Steve Lamacq (Lamacq Central) MySpace
Tunecore Music Survival Guides (Tunecore.com)
Tips For Playing SXSW (Tom Robinson, MySpace blog)
How To Send CDs To Radio (TomRobinson.com)
BBC-One Music How To..Fat Guides (BBC Radio 1)
30+ Essential Music Industry Resources And Links (Buzzsonic.com)
Should I Put My Future Hit On MySpace? (TomRobinson.com)
XFM Uploaded (XFM Radio)
Radiohead Remix (RadioheadRemix.com)
Remix Culture Is Exploding (Evolving Music)
The Mash Up Revolution (Salon.com)
Record Label Resource (RecordLabelResource.com)
How To Get Your Music Distributed On iTunes (And Keep Most Of The Money) (Buzzsonic.com)
Vinyl 45s Make A Come Back (TheStar.com)
Facebook Music Marketing Tactics (NotEvilMusic.com)