Category Archives: Music Downloads

How To Issue A DMCA Takedown Notice To Google

Its always exciting when an artist has a new release go public, but these days (and I’m old enough to have had vinyl/CD only releases in the 90s) its often tempered by the fact that the same day your release gets out it also appears on P2P networks and the endless pile of borderline legal filehosts. So, to try and keep an eye on things the first thing I do is sign up for Google alerts for new mentions of both my artist name, 99th Floor Elevators and the title of any new release, in this case ’99th Floor Elevators Hooked EP’.

99th Floor Elevators Hooked EP

Of course the very next day of my latest release I did my usual Google search query and although the Beatport (they had the exclusive option on the release for the first few weeks) entry was top of the SERPs, and my own 99th Floor Elevators MP3 page was second, queuing up in the majority of the results underneath was a swarm of outlets offering that very same release, free, most even showing the official MP3 artwork, one even having the cheek to use Beatports widget so ‘freetards’ could stream the tracks first!

First things first. I contacted the offending websites in the top 20 results (and this really is like playing whack-a-mole*) and issued DMCA’s (here’s a sample DMCA takedown notice), then I (for starters, I’ll be repeating the process today) filled in Google’s online DMCA takedown submission form with a sample of offenders from the top 10. Be aware that there is a separate process for YouTube.

Anyway, to cut a long story short the results from the first page that I had submitted to Google were gone less than 24 hours later. Bravo.

99th Floor Elevators issue DMCA takedowns to Google

Of course, the very same day those links that were removed were now being replaced by a whole host of new parasites (to which hopefully the same process will remove them as quickly!).

If you want to go through the same process yourself , read this piece from IP Watchdog, which will help you write a template DMCA notice to issue to individual websites (separate to filling in Google’s online submission form).

Sample DMCA Takedown Letter instructions.

You’ll generally find that the file hosts are much less responsive than Google, if they respond at all, but issue them anyway. Then, get them removed from the Google SERPs. Start here:

Removing Content From Google (Google Help)

And do remember also that this process is very much the same whether you’re finding your images used, videos or anything being shared or exploited, without your permission. There’s a separate process for infringement on YouTube.

Related Reading

Safe Harbor Not Loophole: Five Things We Could Do Right Now to Make the DMCA Notice and Takedown Work Better (The Trichordist)
Google URL Takedown Requests Up 100% In a Month, Up 1137% On 2011 (Torrent Freak)
The DMCA is not an Alibi: The Googlization of Art and Artists (Music Tech Policy)
Pirate Bay block effectiveness short-lived, data suggests (BBC News)
Stock DMCA Letters (Plagiarism Today)
Game of Whack a Mole Continues as Big UK ISPs Block More Pirate Bay IPs (ISPReview)
DMCA Takedown 101 (Brainz.org)

Viinyl.com. MP3 Singles Promotion In ‘3D’

Viinyl is a cool new service from Canada that enables anyone to create an interactive single song-site within minutes that comes with lyrics, artwork, videos, notes, various download options, promotional tools and analytics.

I was able to upload a track, add a YouTube video, about page and sort out my one page site in just a few minutes here. It’s a great tool for bands and artists who want a way of dishing out a free download in exchange for that all important email, or as a mini EPK or simply as a quick introduction for a promoter, potential manager or A&R.

The service is in Beta invite only mode right now as they test and add new features. What is looking promising is the possible use of Viinyl as use as a satellite micro-site for acts to promote singles once Viinyl add buy links (iTunes and AmazonMP3 purchase links are  on the way.)

Right now Viinyl offers the option of adding YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace social network links and integration with services like Soundcloud is promised within the next few weeks. One neat touch is the ability to add your Google Analytics code for extra tracking.

Viinyl.com MP3 Promotion for artists

The site reads , “The Viinyl platform turns your song into an interactive website – a digital version of the 45rpm single with artwork and videos. Viinyl sites are optimized to travel the web, engage fans, grow market demand for your band and increase customer loyalty using marketing techniques for the web.”

My only ‘difficulty’ with Viinyl was preparing the background image for the page, and getting it positioned correctly, which proved time consuming without any template guidelines. Not a problem you’d encounter if you were using a single large image (guidelines are 1280 x 800px), but if you were trying to position logos and the like it takes a few attempts to position things correctly. CEO Armine Saidi promises a template system to counter these potential problems asap.

All in all, its a fantastic looking service, very easy to use and will prove to be even more invaluable when the promised new mods and additions come into play in a few weeks.

Some great examples of Viinyl users here.

Related Reading

Music Singles Enjoy Record Breaking Year (The Guardian)
Official UK Chart Rules (OfficialCharts.com) PDF
Billboard Digital Songs (Billboard.com)
Best Year EVER For UK Digital Music Singles (Slyck.com)

12 Golden ‘Rules’ To Keep Your Fan Base Engaged

I was browsing through some old bookmarks and came across (again) Dave Allen’s brilliant piece, ‘ The End of the Music Album as the Organising Principle’ , originally published on his blog, and on Music Think Tank (both worth a visit just to read the commenters feedback) back in April last year.

There’s a bunch of quotable bits from the whole piece but I thought that Dave’s twelve bullet points were a good starting point  for ideas on how to keep your fan base regularly and consistently engaged.

Not your usual, “the CD is dead” diatribe.

“Music fans are no longer patiently waiting for their favorite bands to deliver new music according to the old customary cycle – album, press release, video, radio, tour. No, the fan base has to be regularly and consistently engaged. Some Ideas:

• First, communicate openly and ask your fans what they want from you
• Listen to what they have to say. Really listen
• Provide unique content such as early demos of new songs
• Never under estimate the power of a free MP3
• Forget completely the idea of an organizing principle. Invent a new one
• Use social media wisely. Twitter and Facebook Pages are best, MySpace is too cluttered
• Don’t push messages to your fans, have a two way interaction with them
• Invite them to share, join, support and build goodwill with you
• Scrap your web site and start a blog
• Remember to forget everything you know about the CD “business”
• Start to monetize the experience around your music
• Remember – the browser is the new iPod

And finally I leave you with one organizing principle that works as a tactile and experiential format and gives great pleasure – the vinyl album. Having said that I do not want to contradict any part of this article as I do not suggest using vinyl as a format for delivering an album-length piece of work. I do suggest using vinyl for the physical manifestation of your demos, out takes, live tracks etc, and always accompany it with a coupon for free download of any related digital product.”

Read the whole piece…..

Related

How Killing The CD Single Killed The Recording Industry (Pampelmoose.com. Oct 2007)
The End of The CD and the End of CD Retailers (Pampelmoose.com Oct 2007)
How To Press Up a Vinyl Single and Add Instant Kudos to Your Release (Buzzsonic.com March 2008)
The Disintegration of the Compact Disc (RoyChristopher.com:Jan 2008)

The Buzzsonic.com Ultimate Guide to Digital Music Distribution, Extra

Phew, well now I’ve actually finished a blog post for the first time in over a year (hey I’ve been too busy over at Twitter) I thought I would ‘weld’ together my three lengthy posts on digital music distribution and put them out there as one lovely PDF!

Now take into account that I haven’t reorganized anything so you’ll be getting them in chronological order from the top. I’m going to post it at Google Docs so feel free to grab. This is just the rough’ beta mix’ as I do intend to tidy it up and reorganise very soon. Feedback please!

Grab it here: The Buzzsonic.com Ultimate Guide to Digital Music Distribution Extra!

The Ultimate Digital Music Distribution Round-Up (Part Trois)

I’ve actually been promising an update to my two earlier posts on digital music distribution for waaay too long now, so apologies to all for the horrible delay (April 2009? What the..). Anyway. In case you missed them…

Part 1: ‘Exploring The Digital Music Distribution Jungle’ April 2009
Part 2: ”Digital Music Distribution Round-up Part 2′ April 2009

There were seventeen companies mentioned in Pt.1 and thirteen in Pt.2. Out of them, the only change to report from part one is that Australian based Musicadium has been rolled into Valleyarm.

In part two, WaTunes dropped their bespoke distribution service and changed tack to become a ‘social music store’ and now choose to go thru ReverbNation for distribution services.

The rest, as you were.

Rather than go over the same points here you’ll be much better off catching up with the first two parts. To make things a little more convenient I’m welding the three pieces together as one PDF so you can print and study at leisure.

Some points you may want to take into consideration when choosing a distributor.

Location. Is your distributor of choice in your own country? Possibly a key issue because of currency differences and support concerns. Do they have phone support? A physical address?

Read the websites about page to find out names, history and credentials. If they have none, move on. Use Google. A lot.

Always amazes me when some site pops up claiming combined “20+ years industry experience” but giving no actual NAMES. Then you get a PO BOX for a mailing address. Run. In the opposite direction. Continue reading

Digital Music Distribution Round-Up Part Two

I didn’t get to mention all the digital music distribution outlets that I wanted too in my (part 1) post a few days ago, ‘Exploring The Digital Music Distribution ‘Jungle’’, so I thought I’d update the list in this ‘quick’ additional post. Thanks also to the  feedback and suggestions I got, especially from 101 Distribution and @Charles at 247 Entertainment.

Again I’ll refer to the  major download retailers as the ‘Big 5’ which right now would be iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, Napster and Rhapsody.

Pro Music – Online Music Stores – Not a distribution company but an online worldwide map of legal online digital music retail stores listed by country and maintained by the IFPI and a very good resource for checking out worldwide outlets. The same website maintains  weekly download chart links across mainland Europe and Japan. Right now Lady GaGa seems to be universally topping the charts across Europe with ‘Poker Face’.

digital-music-revenues-2008-ifpi

EPM Electronic – (Maastricht, Netherlands & London, UK)- European based company with a very comprehensive list of stores they service, including the ‘big 5’ worldwide and a very large selection of niche and independent retailers, including all the major electronic dance music stores across the USA, the whole of Europe, Asia and the Far East. Also cover some of the major mobile platforms like Nokia, Vodaphone and 3 Mobile. MySpace.

Its one of those application deals, where you fill in a short form and upload a music sample. There’s no terms on the website but there’s a demo page for label management.

WaTunes -(Atlanta, Georgia, USA)- One of the newer aggregator/distribution channels around, WaTunes are different from just about all the rest in that there is no sign up fee (at the moment) and the artist gets to keep 100% of sales royalties. They distribute to four of the ‘ big 5’ (excluding Rhapsody), plus Shockhound, Zune, Beats Digital and Masterbeat. I’m not entirely comfortable with the ‘everything is free’ revenue model tbh as it doesn’t exactly stimulate financial stability. CEO Kevin Rivers is  blogging here and tweeting here if you want to fire questions. MySpace.

Vidzone Digital Media -(London, UK) – leading distributor of Independent music via mobile networks internationally. More than 130 distribution partnerships across 40 countries. Have a very informative PDF of digital music FAQs too. A checklist of the basics and more advanced info on need to know stuff like UPCs, Metadata and ISRCs. Aimed at labels rather than individuals.

digital-music-revenues-2008-ifpi

Digital Pressure -(Hollywood, CA, USA)- Another long standing big player on the digital distribution front and one of the first. Digital Pressure have been around since 1997 and are a subdivision of Peer Music. Seem to work more with labels/catalog and a percentage cut with no upfront fees. MySpace. Twitter.

“Our contracts with content owners are four-year, non-exclusive distribution agreements. These simple contracts empower Digitalpressure to become your exclusive agent for all of the partners within our global distribution network, but allow you to distribute your music outside of our relationship through any other service or site, including your own.” Contact page.

Ingrooves -(San Francisco, CA, USA) – Long standing distributor who also specialize in licensing music. Main site was down at time of writing. Another aggregator working with a percentage  share. MySpace.

Zebralution -(Berlin/London/LA)- One of the longer standing independent digital music distributors headed up in Berlin, Germany with multiple regional offices worldwide. Huge network of retailers worldwide including the ‘big 5’, genre specific retailers and mobile music outlets. Warners acquired a significant stake in the company in 2007.  There’s an application process for labels hereMySpace.

The CAN
-(Australia) – Oz based Chaos Artist Network supply all major digital retailers globally (iTunes etc) and traditional retailers throughout Australia (JB Hi Fi, Sanity, Big W, Leading Edge etc). Distribute physical product, CDs and DVDs as well as servicing digital retailers. Part of the Stomp entertainment group. MySpace.

EarBuzz.com -(New Jersey, USA)- Two programs offered here, the earBuzz set-up, which costs $25 sign-up and $2 a month for you to sell Cds and downloads on the earBuzz website. An additional $39 enters you into the WWX program which gets you into the ‘big 5’ retailers, ringtone store Myxer, We7 and LaLa. There’s same day payout for sales onsite and 100% royalty share. MySpace.

DashGo -(Santa Monica, CA,USA) – A slightly different selling point from Dashgo. They distribute music via the usual ‘big 5’ retailers and also offer placement on social music outlets including LastFM, iMeem, Blast My Music, iLike and YouTube which includes analytics breakdown. Also provide “full-service digital sales and marketing solutions, promoting your content to digital retailers, securing positioning with social sites, and soliciting coverage on influencer blogs and discovery sites.” Also offer the Audioswop service with YouTube. Twitter.

Kontor New Media -(Hamburg, Germany)Worldwide digital content distribution of music, video, ringtones and audio books. Include the ‘big 5’ and a bunch of dance music outlets, Zune, Nokia, FNAC, 7 Digital and mobile music retailers. Contact. MySpace.

Consolidated Independent – (London, UK)- Not a service for individual artists. CI only works with labels or distributors with more than 200 tracks in their catalog. Fees start from £150 a month. Cover just about every retailer on the planet it seems and promise to get labels into ones that aren’t already on their list.

FineTunes-(Hamburg, Germany)- Not to be confused with Finetune. Finetunes distribute across all the major digital retailers as well as providing software solutions for labels, download stores and artists websites. Twitter. MySpace.

Was going to add Wild Palms but their website seems to be in disaray right know, so we’ll see later.


Related Resources

Digital Distribution For Unsigned Artists (PDF) (Chaos.com)
WaTunes Sells Your Music On iTunes And Amazon Free Of Charge (Techcrunch.com)
Get Music Online-Online Music Stores (Pro-Music.org)
DashGo Connects Musicians and Labels to Social Media (Mashable.com)
IFPI Digital Music Report 2009 (32pg. PDF) (IFPI)
The Digital Top 40 FAQ PDF (VidZone Digital Media)
Independent Distribution Solution:Getting Records from Concept To Consumer (Narip.com) (MP3 audio files with PDF and Excel Spreadsheet documents in a zip file.$59.99)
Music and Metadata (XML.com)
Digital Distribution (BeMuso.com)
Should I Do Something About Metadata? (NewMusicStrategies.com)

101 Distribution Correction

I mentioned 101 Distribution in my digital distribution round-up here:

101 Distribution – (Phoenix, Arizona, USA) – Not sure what warrants the high costs here. But there’s a massive $599 sign up fee, then $49.95 a month. 100% payout of all sales. You’re gonna need it with those kind of upfronts! You can Twitter questions why, here: @101Distribution

Arizona based music and video distributor 101 Distribution

from my post earlier in the week.

Anyway, I did get a few Tweets from the guys at 101 explaining that their Pro setup is only $599, there is no monthly charge on top. The $49.95 monthly charge is actually a ‘payment plan’ for artists who can’t stump up the 600 big ones up front.

I did promise 101 I’d clear that up for them, so here you go!

Exploring The Digital Music Distribution ‘Jungle’

I’ve touched on music distribution issues here before with Tunecore, Bit Torrent and even good old analogue vinyl but thought I’d dig around a bit deeper as there seems to be new distribution services springing up on a regular basis these days. Be they aggregator or ‘widget’ type tools. Ill be covering digital music aggregators here first and covering website widgets later in the week.


The Music Void – Denzyl Feigelson on MUZU

Things To Consider When Choosing Digital Music Distribution

With the Internet its easy to research background on companies these days. Thats what Google is for. Do it. Search around the distributors website. Look for the names of people running the company. Put a shout out on Twitter or music  forums if you need user feedback on any service.

What is the distributors background, how long has the company been around?  What is the revenue model ? Upfront yearly admin fee (like Tunecore) or a percentage of sales (CD Baby take 9%).

Which digital retailers do  the aggregators distribute too? Also, check the distributors  list of bands, artists and labels that are using their services. Always a good reference point. Its reassuring to know that Tunecore (who I use) also handle digital distribution for established artists such as NiN,  David Byrne & Brian Eno and Jay Z and newer MP3 blog faves like MGMT.

Also you need to know that you wont be signing away rights to your music and that you wont be tied down to any lengthy fixed terms

Music industry scribe Moses Avalon has a good breakdown of distribution terms for a few aggregators on his website. Its a couple of years old and as such covers only the longer established companies but is still very relevant. Continue reading

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)

Coldplay Meet Jay-Z In Mixtape Mash-up

Wikipedia describes mash-ups (or bastard pop) as a song created out of pieces of two or more songs, usually by overlaying the vocal track of one song seamlessly over the music track of another. One cultural commentator went a little deeper explaining, “It is merely the latest incarnation of a widely shared, deeply embedded cultural habit of cultural recombination across time and space.” Got that?

Someone else once said “all plagiarism is necessary its takes the wrong idea and replaces it with the right one”. With that in mind I find that mash-ups have actually been educational for me by taking two artists I’d never listen to alone, twisting them into something new and actually getting me to seek out original works of both artists.

vivalahovamickboogieterryur

After writing  about the Green Day album ‘American Edit’ here (who’s whole career was launched by plagiarizing Stiff Little Fingers) and hearing ‘Give Me Novacaine’ in the blender with Queens ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (as ‘Novacaine Rhapsody’) it forced me to re-evaluate both artists. I’ve also mentioned a variety of mash-up projects here including Primal Scream, War Of The Worlds, The Beatles, Chemical Brothers and the Prodigy. Not all great, but always interesting.

Latest album mash-up to pop up on the radar (admittedly its been around a few weeks now) is ‘Viva La Hova’ which takes some of the better known Coldplay moments and heaps Jay-Z over the top. Over the top sounds a little raw as these things are actually woven together with intricate precision  by  Brooklyn based mixtape crew Mick Boogie & Terry Urban.

Its very good too with big Coldplay hits like the Scientist, Clocks, In My Place, Trouble and Fix You all getting twisted and reborn into hip-hop epics and not sounding out of place either. Jetcomx blog writer Jim Fields illustrates things a little better.

” Late one night, I was at a small party, doing DJ duty and selecting songs on my iPod. I searched for a while, scrolled to a song, then clicked “play.” Chris Martin, of Coldplay, began to croon out his slow ballad, “Fix You.”

Initially, the crowd was not happy with this choice. “When you feel so tired that you can’t sleep,” Chris sang, slowly. “Stuck in reverse!” he whispered. Suddenly, the word “reverse” began repeating, and a bass beat started thumping. People at the party started tapping their feet. The beat built up, people started dancing, and by the time Jay-Z (aka Jazzy, Sean Carter, Jiggaman, Hova, The Roc, etc.) began rapping, the party was bumping. Such is the brilliance of Viva La Hova.”

Apparently the whole thing has already been given the thumbs up by Jay-Z himself. The rapper had an official co-lab with Coldplay late last year when he  dropped in for a guest verse on the Viva La Vida single “Lost!”, retitled “Lost+” and appears on the ‘Prospekts March’ EP.

Download The Album Here, here and here .

Related Links

Viva La Hova (IllRoots.com)
Mixtape Mondays: Jay-Z vs Coldplay:Viva La Hova (Jetcomx.com)