Posts Tagged 'musicians'

Deep Artist/Fan Connections Critical to Success in Music 2.0

More than nine million musicians are trying to connect with more than 200 million music fans, according to some estimates. The huge numbers alone would suggest the odds are in their favor. Yet the channels musicians have traditionally relied upon to get their music discovered, promoted and sold are increasingly irrelevant and as a result, musicians are increasingly on their own, without labels, record stores or radio to help them.

“The artist’s challenge is to convert casual fans into loyal fans, and loyal fans into paying customers,” said Charles Feinn, CEO and co-founder of music technology innovator MixMatchMusic. “Getting your music discovered just isn’t enough. Musicians have to engage and involve casual listeners in order to build deep and lasting connections with them, and to convert them to loyal fans. These connections are what drive sales of the concert tickets, band merchandise and CDs artists need to pay the rent and put gas in the van.”

According to Feinn and many other music industry observers, record labels play a smaller and smaller role in breaking new bands or even promoting signed bands. Record stores are disappearing and radio is less and less of a factor in promoting new music. And it’s hard for a new band to breakthrough amongst the millions of songs in the iTunes Store. It’s also true that music fans have changed, acclimated to the read/write web and the social interaction that comes with it, and looking for the same experience with music and the artists who create it.

“While the business part of the traditional music business is breaking down, music is alive and well and there is more music than ever,” said Feinn. “We’re on a mission to help keep music alive, and we’re doing so by helping artists forge deeper and more meaningful connections with fans.”

Feinn said a growing number of artists are turning to new Internet-based initiatives, such as the remix promotions pioneered by Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead, to help them engage with and connect with music fans.

“Involving fans in the creative process by encouraging them to remix and mash up a new song from the musical building blocks provided by the artist, is catching on as one of the best ways to make the artist – fan connection stronger,” he said.

Feinn said that more than 60 artists have launched remix promotions based on MixMatchMusic’s Remix Wizard, a simple-to-use widget that any fan with a broadband connection can use. Artists including Pepper and Zion I have loaded the building blocks of songs – the guitar, bass, keys, drums and other elements called stems, into customized versions of MixMatchMusic’s widget, and invited fans to remix the stems to create new sounds and songs with them. He said the company’s site has received more than half a million impressions since the beginning of the year, and more than 80 thousand plays of fan-created remixes.

Feinn said the Remix Wizard is a fan-friendly approach to the more complex remix technologies employed by Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead. Bands such as Pepper feature remixes submitted by fans on their sites and MySpace pages, and some artists even promise to incorporate especially imaginative fan-created interpretations of their music in future albums.

Feinn said the Remix Wizard is the first in a series of artist and fan friendly technologies from MixMatchMusic designed to forge even stronger and deeper connections.

“Music has the power to bring people together,” said Feinn. “It’s exciting and also humbling to know we’re playing a small part in making those connections happen, through our technology-based products and services that help musicians convert casual music fans into loyal fans, and loyal fans into paying customers.”

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Host your own remix contest with the Remix Wizard

Recently, MixMatchMusic launched the Remix Wizard, a free widget that any artist can use to host remix promotions on their websites, blogs and social network pages.  Artists customize what the widget looks like and provide the stems to a song (the various parts of a song, like the vocals, guitar, drums, etc) for fans to remix, either by using the online MixMaker or by downloading the stems for remixing in any music software. All the remixes are then published to the widget for others to play, vote on, and share. The widget is designed to be flexible, so that artists can sell the stems or give them away for free, set deadlines and give prizes to winners, and set the legal agreement that covers the rights to the stems and remixes made (who owns them?).

I recently recorded a new song, and have embedded the widget on my Myspace page so that y’all can remix it:

My Remix Wizard

The play button next to the left of “A Little Fuzzy” lets you hear the original song. The tracks in the middle of the widget (Dark Sunrise, Now’s the Time) are submitted remixes. When you submit yours, it will be listed there. Then, people can hear it, vote for it, and share it (by making a separate, mini widget).

Click “download stems” to get the stems in your home software, and then be sure to click “upload stems” to publish it. Or, click “MixMaker” to see how the song was made and to create a mix using the online sequencer. You’ll be able to publish it to the widget directly from there. The “wanna remix more tracks” link will take to a gallery full of Remix Wizards deployed around the web!

So, what are you waiting for? Host your own remix promotion today! Or, click here for more info.

Microfinancing Musicians: How to Skip the Middleman and Pay the Artist

After exploring options for where musicians can sell their music online, I wanted to step into the shoes of the fans – the fans who would rather support their favorite artists and help them make more music by paying them directly as opposed to paying a label or music store.

I touched on it briefly in the 5 predictions for digital music trends post mentioning that “services like Slicethepie and Sellaband are paving the way for a more direct financial and emotional connection between creators and consumers”, but after discovering a few more services I think this topic warrants its own post. It’s one thing to buy a CD or iTunes single or a concert ticket. It’s another to just give money to the artist.

Here are the sites I’ve found (so far) that allow you to do so. They each operate a little differently. Some also allow you to make money while supporting the artist.

Sellaband
“You are the record company”
The Deal: The Believer picks an artist they like. Each artist issues 50,000 Parts at $10 each. Believers (fans) have to cumulatively raise $50,000 to get their Artist in the studio. Fans can withdraw their Parts and get their money back at any time up until they reach the 50K, at which point the Artist gets hooked up with a studio and an A&R person and the Partholders get to watch the magic happen. Advertising revenues and net profits from sales are split evenly between the Artist, the Believers, and Sellaband. And Believers can open a Shop to sell related products from their Artist and earn commission.

Slicethepie
“Help yourself to a piece of the music industry”
The deal: Every fan is a music label and can become “emotionally and financially involved at all levels of the music industry – scouting, breaking, investing in and influencing real artists” by sending them through the various stages of Slicethepie – Arenas, Scout Rooms, and Showcases. Fans listen to tracks, write reviews, vote for, and finance the artist by buying Backstage Passes, which give them exclusive access to the artist and the right to buy Contracts at a discount. Then, the Contracts (tradable on the Slicethepie Exchange) give investors a return over a 2 yr period.

CASH Music: A Coalition of Artists and Stake Holders
“A platform for engagement”
The deal: Not totally sure yet, as they are quite new, but in a nutshell it is “an open-source platform for the new, distributed music business” where artists and audiences can interact and support one another creatively. Projects are by invitation-only for now.

Calabash Music
“Tune Your World”
The deal: “Peer-to-peer microfinancing of new music projects.” Positioning themselves as “the leading international music download service and the world’s first fair trade music company”, they focus on international artists and even have a partnership with National Geographic, using Calabash’s catalog to access world music and put these artists in front of the 10 million monthly viewers of nationalgeographic.com. Pick an artist, make a minimum $15 sponsorship, and download advance copies of the artist’s recordings. Money is transferred to the musician once their goal is reached.

ArtistShare
“Where the fans are making it happen”
The deal: Around since 2003, ArtistShare is probably the oldest player in the field. In exchange for funding their favorite artists, fans receive “access to the creative process, LTD Edition recordings, VIP access to recording sessions and even credit listing on the CD.” Another cool feature is RadioShare, which allows radio stations to access music from ArtistShare.

As the music 2.0 movement continues to evolve, I will be watching with great interest to see which services become widely adopted and which trends prevail. Choose-your-price and pay-the-musician-directly are definitely two of the concepts I think will continue to gain popularity. And rest assured, among the many great features (including those that facilitate compensation for musicians) that will soon be available to MixMatchers, the ability to throw money in a tip jar to show some love for the artists you dig will be there.

RIAA Screws Musicians!

In a news item that probably shouldn’t surprise us all that much given the recent history of the recording industry and their increasingly desperate attempts to control something that is spiraling quickly out of control, it turns out that the settlements the RIAA has collected from lawsuits with Napster and other file sharing communities have never made it to the artists. Over $400 million dollars, supposedly collected because the artists were losing revenue off of pirated material, has been horded or squandered by the powers that be. While we talk frequently about the diminishing rights of the artists, the new models of distribution and the idea that the record industry is changing rapidly, let us not forget that huge amounts of control still reside with the dinosaurs of the music industry who will do anything to make a buck, even if it’s robbing the exact same artists they claim their legal actions help. Thanks to the consumerist for the update

Cloudspeakers: The Google Reader of Music Reviews

Yesterday, the Listening Post blogged about a “music-oriented news reader on steroids, backed by a social network” called Cloudspeakers. This site is a music aggregator of sorts with links to music reviews, audio, and video. For the fans out there who obsessively read/write artist and album reviews (i.e. not me), I imagine this could be a very useful resource.

If I spent as much time on Cloudspeakers reading music reviews as I spend on my Google Reader reading music/technology blogs, I might get close to knowing as much about specific musicians and their albums as my co-blogger, Actual. But, I’ll stick to what I know and leave that to him.

Via your profile, email, or RSS, you can stay on top of what’s up with your favorite musicians. OR you can browse labels, artists, or users or search for a specific artist. Whether you want to read bloggers’ reviews, watch youtube videos, or listen to audio, they got ya covered. Check it out!

(CloudSpeakers is powered by MusicBrainz, which is a “user-maintained community music meta-database”. Kind of like the wikipedia of artist/album info.)


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