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creative demos developer free geek google interesting internet media networking productivity silicon valley technology web 2.0

Even Google feels the pinch?


In these dark days of the so-called credit crunch it appears that even Google is having to tighten its belt, shutting down a number of services. Although several of them never got out of invite mode, it’s sad to see the likes Jaiku and Notebook being given the boot.

Hat-tip: Paul Bradshaw

Categories
creative demos developer free geek google interesting internet media networking productivity silicon valley technology web 2.0

Even Google feels the pinch?


In these dark days of the so-called credit crunch it appears that even Google is having to tighten its belt, shutting down a number of services. Although several of them never got out of invite mode, it’s sad to see the likes Jaiku and Notebook being given the boot.

Hat-tip: Paul Bradshaw

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bands business creative demos entrepreneur facebook free future media music Music Industry startup

1000 True Fans

Just a couple of quick things for you, as I’ve got a backlog of things I’d like to tell you all about but they’re building up and I never have enough time to blog as it is!

Those of you that read my last blog about Chris Anderson may know of his seminal work “The Long Tail” – the business model of supplying niche products, rather than targeting the obvious products that sell in huge amounts* – which, while really just a re-explaining of already-understood concepts within business practice, has described how a lot of people are making money off the back of the internet.

Anyway, I digress. Kevin Kelly‘s latest blog argues that as a musician/artist/whatever that The Long Tail makes life difficult, but that if you’re clever you only need 1000 “true fans” to make a living. It’s a really interesting read for anyone wondering if they’ll be able to survive in the creative industries. It all kind of depends on your definition of a “true fans”, and whether an artist can generate enough “product” to in turn generate enough sales to keep those particular fans spending on you. It’s easy enough to get 1000 “friends” on Myspace, but as a singer-songwriter who’s only just releasing his first album, would you be able to create box-sets, DVDs and online subscriptions? Or would albums, singles and t-shirts be enough. It’s a question that each individual needs to answer themselves, but I think it’s a very important one to ask. Read the article and get thinking. It should give you a much better understanding of what exactly you have to do to live off your passion.

Also, if you’ve ever worked for, or been involved with a major label you should check out this article from FT.com. It starkly lays out how the music industry as we know it is changing (as highlighted in my last entry), and A+R men are under massive pressure to deliver the goods with a fraction of the budget. As I’ve told many of my clients and friends over the last few years – even if you get signed by a major, the chances of being unceremoniously dropped like a hot potato within a year or two are huge. To the label you are a gamble, and until you go platinum your costs will be subsidised by the likes of U2, Coldplay and the like. And until you make up, as in EMI’s case, one of the just 3 percent of artists that generate a profit (yep, only three percent!) then you’ll be a liability and prime for the chop.

So maybe it’s time to work on those 1000 “true fans” yourself and cut out the desire to sign to an unweildy and outdated major…

* This is a gross simplification, but if you know anything about marketing you’ll be able to relate to it as a different aspect of the Pareto Principle. I’ve actually just found a better description from The Long Tail website that reads: “The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare.”


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bands business demos entrepreneur Entrepreneurship music

Neil’s guide to sending out great demos

In the year or two since I wrote this guide a lot of things have changed, most notably the ability of everyone to send and receive high quality MP3s via email. And obviously everyone has their music on Myspace. In light of that I’ll get round to updating this guide soon, but in the meantime I think much of it is still relevant, especially as I know a lot of A+R people who still only want to hear demos on CD etc.

Anyway, here’s the original article, copied from my old blog:

– – – –
As an A&R guy I’ve received hundreds and hundreds of demos. Probably thousands. And the vast majority have had major problems. I’m not talking about the music. That’s another thing entirely and warrants a whole boook itself.

What I’m talking about is making your demo stand out from the pile and making it easy for someone to get in touch with you once they listen to it.

Firstly, and most importantly, put your contact on the CD itself. There’s one thing that will be guaranteed is that the CD will be separated from the case and they will probably never see each other again. Imagine your phone number or email is on the case which is lost down the back of the label’s stereo and there are no contacts on the CD itself. How are they going to get in touch with you to offer you a deal? They may not even know the name of your band if it’s on a blank CD.

Secondly – make sure it stands out. Whether you record it to bright pink CDs, or have a big picture of a snail on it just make sure it can be found amongst the pile. When you send a polite email or give them a courtesy call a few weeks later to check they got it ok, or whether they’ve checked it out the first thing they’ll say to you is “Which one is it? What does it look like?”. The pile on the A&R man’s desk could be hundreds deep. Now imagine saying “Erm, it’s on a silver disk, with erm, some writing on it, in a white case”. That probably accounts for 80 percent of the demos he or she receives. It only has to be slightly different (a band portrait is fine) but it has to have some distinguishing marks.

Thirdly – The follow up. In most cases your CD won’t get listened to without a bit of a nudge. As an A&R man, this is my preferred method of receiving a friendly reminder. A week after you send it, send a polite email to say “Hi, I’m X from X. I sent you a CD recently. It looked like etc. I hope you like it. I’ll drop you a mail in a week or so to see what you think.” Then a week later drop them a reminder “Hi, it’s X again. Just checking to see what you thought of my CD”. Even after 2 weeks and 2 emails there’s a chance you may still hear nothing. Don’t be afraid to phone a week later. You’re perfectly entitled to follow it up. If you do, just be aware that these guys are very busy. Just be polite and respectful. Don’t hassle them. If this doesn’t get a response then let it go, you’ll just have to wait for them to get round to listening to it and hopefully respond. Hassling them won’t make them view you in a good light. At the end of the day they’re probably as disorganised as most A&R men so it’ll just take time. If they do their job properly they’ll listen to it eventually. And they may just give you some feedback. But don’t count on it!

Thanks to everyone who attended “The Gathering” at The Pop Factory, who inspired me to write this little piece. Good luck to you all!