People often ask me how I keep in touch with all the music industry news and updates that I post on my hyperactive Buzzsonic Twitter account, the simple answer is using RSS feeds and my Feedly RSS reader (desktop, Android app and iOS).
Weld that together with Pocket (and their various Chrome extensions and mobile apps) and you have the perfect content curation set up. Not forgetting IFTTT !
I subscribe to way too many feeds TBH, but in answer to a few queries here is my collection of Music Industry websites that I subscribe too. Right click and save as and you’ll get an OPML file, which to none geeks like me is basically a text format of saving a collection of RSS feeds for import into an RSS feed reader, like Feedly or InoReader.
To use this stuff grab the Feedly Chrome extension (my weapon of choice). You can sync/sign-in using your Gmail credentials.
When installed go to the Organize link (in the lower left hand column) click and you’ll see an import OPML right at the top there. Import the Buzzsonic OPML and you’ll see the feeds populate the column on the left. Done.
I’ll be posting my other OPML’s in a fuller post in a few days. Let me know how you get on in the commenting below or via Twitter. Also, do feel free to recommend any feeds or resources you feel I’ve left out, even if they’re your own. Good luck.
I’ve been using WordPress since 2005 and I swear by it these days, simply because its so versatile, infinitely customisable, robust, oh, and its free too.
My early experience with content management systems was with PHP-Nuke, then Mambo, Joomla and B2Evolution (B2/Cafelog, was the precursor to WordPress).
But there has been incredible development on WordPress in the following years and I really couldn’t see myself using anything else, such is the support, the plug-ins and the adaptability of the platform.
Its something you never stop learning too, learning about plug-ins, themes (free and paid), how to tweak themes, add text widgets….
There’s also a whole raft of plugins that are aimed at musicians and bands, everything from gig management, to Soundcloud shortcodes, to download monitors (and all points in between). I’ll be covering this subject much deeper with an up to date list of killer WordPress plugins for bands, artists and labels within the next few days here.
Anyway, I’ve collected a whole box load of very useful resources over the years and really that’s the thing, if you’re prepared to read a lot you can turn yourself into something of a WordPress ninja with a little patience.
Remember that old Chinese proverb:
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
I’m not saying this is the definitive list of WordPress resources but its a great starter kit and will save you a lot of time should you be considering whether to go it alone with your own install, or whether you’d prefer to let someone else do the heavy lifting for you!
Getting Started Resources
Getting Started With WordPress from Tasty Placement is a great instructional that holds your hand with writing and editing webpages on your WordPress site and shows you the basics on how to manage WordPress, including logging in, posting new articles and pages, uploading images, creating and editing menus and widgets and some more advanced features.
Another good easy to navigate WordPress starters guide with easy to understand instructions is ‘A Simplified Users Guide to WordPress’, which, according to the authors is intended to be a simple guide to using WordPress for those new to managing a WP powered site. In particular those who’ve had their WP site set up for them by a web designer or developer.
WordPress Mentor has a very handy WordPress setup checklist which runs through five difference stages and checklists to tick off. Install: The basic WordPress installation. Secure: Hardening the WordPress installation. Configure: Adjust WordPress settings. Connect: Connect WordPress to online services.Optimise: Adjust WordPress performance. There’s the HTML version or a much neater PDF download which you can get free for an email address. Worth it.
As if that wasn’t enough to read, Tentblogger has a huge series of blog posts under the umbrella, ‘The Ultimate Guide to Launching a WordPress-Powered Blog’. Sit yourself down, strap yourself in, there’s 55 posts on everything from WordPress security settings, SEO tips and tools, recommended Plugins, setting up Google Analytics and all points in between. Brilliant.
Another useful tool that is aimed squarely at developers, is DesktopServer from ServerPress, which basically enables you to have a server on your desktop machine (PC/Mac) so you can test and develop your WordPress install locally without publishing online until you’re quite happy with the results.
There’s a basic free edition which allows you to create up to three websites, or the paid version which has unlimited website projects. There are several other similar tools for Devs, like Bitnami, Instant WordPress and WampServer (and the Mac equivalent MAMP).
Now We’re Up And Running.
Things to consider after your WordPress install is up and running. Content writing tips, SEO and tech tools.
‘Ready, Set, Write: The Ultimate Guide to Blogging’, is a free PDF guide to getting the most from your blogging experience. Put together by the Content Marketing Institute, the 37 page guide runs through everything from developing your blogging voice and strategy, tips for writing really amazing content, getting your content seen and shared, measuring your impact and ensuring success. There’s a host of tips, case studies and tools here you can use to build and maintain a successful blog that benefits you and your business.
And more content ideas from the Content Marketing Institute. ‘12 Things to Do After You’ve Written a New Blog Post‘ , ideas that I’m going to have to put into action once I’ve finished writing this blog post! But basically the post delves into ideas on how to spread your content successfully using social media, RSS and forums. Its basic stuff nowadays, but if you need some kind of bullet list you could do worse than start here.
Windows Live Writer. Compose WordPress Posts Offline
You don’t always have WiFi when you’re on the move, despite this utopian dream of always on, everywhere, that’s hardly the case for most unless you have bottomless pockets! So, if I get the urge to write offline, Windows Live Writer is my weapon of choice. Why not just use Open Office, MS Office Word or a text editor?
Well, the advantage of Windows Live Writer is that as long as you sync it up with your WordPress blog (or multiple blogs) when you first set it up, it formats everything just like it would in WordPress and it has a preview function. You might even like it so much you could bypass going into the WordPress admin all together and use Live Writer from your desktop. Excellent tool.
Performance & Plugins
How To Speed Up WordPress And Boost Site Performance
More geekiness (I guess!) from DBS Interactive who have an awesome WordPress reference guide, which basically is an online handbook ‘WordPress V3.0+ Template Tag Reference Guide‘, which guides you through the various template tags (obviously!) and is one of the best reference’s I’ve seen of this nature, comprehensive, well laid out and extremely useful. Naturally if you haven’t got to the stage where you want to get your hands dirty with coding then fair enough, but if you do….
And finally a couple of SEO resources.
The first is from Yoast, ‘The Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings For WordPress Sites‘. Yoast know a thing or two about WordPress SEO, being the people behind the super popular WordPress SEO Plugin and this is one of the most complete SEO guides you’re likely to see. Essential. And if you want a second opinion, DIYThemes have an equally essential, self explanatory guide, ‘WordPress SEO for Everybody’. An ongoing tutorial which the writers say, “in it, you’ll learn how to use ethical, legitimate ways to get your WordPress blog ranking higher in the search engines.” Good enough, and it certainly is.
That should be enough to keep you going for weeks I hope. If you have any further tips and resources I’ve missed out please mention them in the comments and we’ll keep this thing updated.
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
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).
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.
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!).
“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.”
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.
Well I struggled with the Word Press upgrade. Even following the helpful support links at Word Press itself and doing the usual Google search I had some scary moments, php errors, parts of the site vanishing etc. Ouch. I’d backed up the whole website archive to my desktop so I was able to restore the site and try again (thankfully!).
Anyway, I decided the safest way (but not the quickest way) was to install the latest version of Word Press side by side the old version in a different directory on my server and painstakingly move all the old posts over by hand. One thing that Word Press dosn’t seem to support as yet (at least I couldn’t find it) is migrating the content over from Word Press to Word Press, although there is support for moving from alternate blogging platforms over to Word Press (I hope you’re still following me here).
So thats the latest, a weekend of moving content. The old Buzzsonic was running on Word Press 1.5 using the Semiologic theme by Denis de Barnardy. The new Buzzsonic is running on Word Press 2.0.3 using the rather cool looking Durable theme by CSS whizz Andy Partling.
Forever changing….We seem to have been taking one too many ‘sabbaticals’ from this blog over the last year, juggling too many projects is one excuse, another is that my ideas are continually shifting.
So, another bit of a slight change on the editorial front as we’re now focussing the blog on highlighting more personal technology like blogging, RSS, bookmarking, popdcasting, software and the like as opposed to the original focus, which was the digital music industry when we started as MusicBizNews24.com (a while ago now!). Call it convergence if you like. Not jumping on any bandwagon you understand, just trying to focus a little clearer.
The remainder of this week will be a bit of a site makeover to hopefully make things easier on the eye, an update to our Word Press (we’re still on 1.5 here as apposed to 2. whatever its at now) and shifting the old database over, oh, and the more search engine friendly URL feature that the latest Word Press has.
Anyway, proper new posts and more updates at the weekend. Keep your eye out.
As an indication of how widespread the phenomena of Podcasting is becoming, early adopters are springing up in the most unlikely places. Father Roderick Vonhogen, Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Utrecht in the Netherlands led Internet listeners on an intimate audio tour that allowed them to pay one last visit to Pope John Paul II before he was laid to rest earlier this month with his podcast show , “The Night the Pope Died” delivered in MP3 format and downloadable from his Catholic Insider website.
Catholic Insider and thousands of other podcasts can be found through directories like Podcast Alley , Podcasting News and Podcast.net while free software like iPodder, Doppler and iPodder X automatically downloads new shows as they become available. Listeners can transfer their podcasts to an Apple iPod or other portable MP3 player, and listen to them when and where they wish.
A recent survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that one in three U.S. adults who own an MP3 player have listened to a podcast, though the survey’s small sample size of respondents means that figure could be substantially lower, according to some critics. In all, 2,201 people were interviewed, including 208 owners of iPods or MP3 players.
Pew Internet researcher Mary Madden told the NewsFactor website. “Podcasting is clearly a growing online phenomenon,” she says. “It is part of the larger notion of the Internet being a democratizing medium. Anyone who has the basic tools, a basic grasp of technology, can do it. Podcasting is definintely mimicking blogging in a lot of ways,” Madden continues. “In a lot of cases, they are audio versions of someone’s personal rant for the day.”
Big buzz for us here today as looking at our server stats earlier we realised we got ‘Slashdotted’ yesterday without even realising it (we had a day off !). So, we kind of got a whole weeks traffic in a few hours. We’ve heard of some peoples sites going into melt down when this happens so all credit to our robust hosting company MyAcen, who we rate very highly indeed and kept the fires burning. We just hope some of the Slashdot readers keep paying us a visit !