Sunday, September 25, 2011

Networking for Musicians

Hello Musicians and Marketeers,

I know its been a while since I updated the site.  I had the opportunity to visit Denmark this summer and live with some great producers who have been on the scene in Europe for years.  Needless to say I learned alot, Especially about Music Marketing.  One great thing I learned is how to connect with people, which was interestingly more difficult due to the slight language barrier (I came to find most people can speak English in Europe and I did learn enough Danish to speak to women at bars and bodegas)  So in light of what I learned about making connections, here is an article about how to Network pand make real lasting connections in the music industry.
Networking is a must in the music industry - yes, even for you who hates the idea of networking. And yes, you, who even hates the word "networking." Your pain - I feel it - but the bad news is that it just has to be done. Now, here's the good news. Networking need not be painful, cheesy, uncomfortable, cringe worthy, or anything else you are imaging. Start out by looking at it this way: networking doesn't have to be anything more than meeting your fellow music lovers and brainstorming about how you can work together to get great music out there - nothing more, nothing less. With that idea in mind, these tips will help you feel better about music industry networking.
- Zak 
Networking for Musicians
Here's How:
  1. Choose The Right Event
    There are tons of music industry networking opportunities, from music industry trade shows to local musician meet-ups. If you're not especially comfortable networking or don't have a lot of experience doing it, then start small. Instead of jumping into the conference hall at Midem right off the bat, start out visiting a local event and meeting people there. The more you get used to mixing in a room of strangers and talking about your own projects, the easier it will get. You can use that confidence you build in those smaller events to move up to larger events.
  2. Do Reconnaissance
    Confidence is key when you are networking, and doing a little homework before any event will help you feel ready to conquer the room. When possible, do some research into who will be attending an event (for instance, before a trade show, check out the attendee database). If there are some people you know you want to make a connection with, find out what you can about their business and current projects so you sound knowledgeable when you're talking with them. Knowing a little something about them will also give some conversation starters.
  3. Know Your Spiel
    You don't want to go into conversations sounding like you're reading from a script, but devote a little pre-event time to thinking about how you will describe your work in a clear and CONCISE manner. This rehearsal time is especially important if you are actually pitching things/looking for business partners while networking as opposed to simply making connections that might come in handy in the future. When you get your big chance to sit down with, say, the label you want to license your new album and they ask you what you're working on, you don't want to say, "'s this know, we're trying to...uh, like..." No, better to be prepared to say, "We've just finished recording an album of Joy Division covers done in a flamenco inspired style."
    Disclaimer: please don't record an album of flamenco inspired Joy Division covers. I totally made that up.
  4. Be Prepared
    Making network connections isn't like what happens at the end of the night at a bar or club. You don't want to ask people to plug their numbers into your phone or jot numbers down on your hands (I hear that is what the kids do these days). Get some business cards made up with your name, company name (if applicable), email address and contact number and get ready to hand them out to the new people you meet.
    If you are promoting something tangible, come prepared with promotional material, if possible - a label sampler, a promo of your band, some samples of your cover art - whatever is relevant. Mind you, you don't want to invest huge amounts of money into this promotional material. Especially at large events, people tend to collect this stuff and then realize when they get home that they are never going to listen to it. Nevertheless, come prepared so you are at least in the position to put something in the hands of a potential new business partner. You never really know when that one important person is going to hear/see your stuff and become incredibly valuable to your career.
  5. You're Good Enough, You're Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like You
    But how do you talk to people? Bottom line - be yourself. You'll see all kind of behavior at networking events, from people who seem to be walking around going, "I'm NETWORKING! I'm NETWORKING! Wanna network with me?" to people just quietly chatting with a few folks. If you've prepared, feel confident that you've got everything you need to make new business connections and go for it. Remember that the point of networking is to build mutually beneficial relationships, so no one is doing you a favor by talking to you and finding out about your work. You're either going to work together - in which case you'll be helping each other - or it's not going to be the right fit. There's nothing wrong with either outcome - and not making a viable business connection doesn't mean you have done anything wrong.
  6. Follow Up
    The most important part of networking happens the next day. Follow up with your new contacts, even if it is just to say, "enjoyed chatting - keep in touch."
  1. Don't Fake It
    Don't know about some musician someone is talking about? Don't understand some music industry term used? Admitting you don't know is far less embarrassing than faking it and being wrong. Everyone has to learn the ropes. There's absolutely zero shame in that. Embrace every learning opportunity. If you are constantly pretending you know, then you will never learn. Picking up new knowledge is positive.
    With that said, if you do want to brush up on some basic music industry vocab before embarking on your networking, check out the Music Industry Glossary.
  2. Relax!
    You're not doing it wrong. I promise. Some people love business terms, so they talk about "networking." Nothing wrong with that, but if the idea of formal networking makes you break out in hives, remember - networking is just a fancy word for talking to people who work in the same business as you. Don't create a lot of pressure for yourself. Being quietly confident and knowledgeable is just as "impressive" as being Mr/Miss Schmoozey Pants. Do your homework, be yourself, and you'll be just fine.
  3. Work the Room
    Resist the urge to sit in the corner chugging your beverage of choice with a friendly face. Make the rounds and meet new people. If you are new to this kind of event and a little hesitant to strike up a conversation, set yourself a goal to meet three new people and call it a day. You can work your way up as your comfort level increases.
  4. Advance Notice
    Especially for large events, if someone is attending that you know for sure you want to meet, it never hurts to drop them an email just to say hello and that you look forward to meeting them.
  5. Be Open Minded
    You never know who is going to make a big difference in your music career - and you never know when they are going to help you, either. Every connection you make is valuable, even if the results are not immediate. Even if you have a short list of people you want to meet at an event, welcome every conversation and connection. You just never know that kid you blew off is going to end up being the big shot agent who would be perfect for you five years down the line.

By Zak with No comments

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Holy grail of internet Marketing: How to collect email adresses

Collecting e-mail addresses of loyal subscribers is one of the most important things you can do to help promote your business. This one thing is more important than almost anything else you will do. How do you gather these needed addresses? Here are 7 Crazy-Simple Ways to Collect Email Addresses and Build Your Mailing List of Loyal Readers.
You have to give in order to receive. If you want people to offer up their email address, you’re going to have to offer up an incentive. It’s a fair trade – just make sure you offer value.
=> Way #2 - USE POP-UPS
Pop-ups are one of the most common methods you can use to capture email addresses and build your email list quickly and with ease provided you use them responsibly. Simply construct a web page containing code for a form and set the page to open (pop up) when visitors ENTER OR EXIT your site.
- Word to the Wise: If you need a pop-up, you can pick one up F-R-E-E (there’s that word again) from Empowerism at: Empowerism
If you have a mailing list that contains snail mail (street) addresses, convert it into an email list by sending out a postcard and inviting people to VISIT YOUR WEBSITE to receive a gift of some kind — a report, a discount coupon, etc. Visitors don’t have to pay in order to receive their gifts; they simply need to enter an email address. Plus, you’ll save a ton in postage.
This is a clever trick that so many people overlook. Put a RESPONSE FORM ON EVERY PAGE of your website offering a newsletter or other freebie. This will increase the number of email addresses you capture exponentially.
- A Word to the Wise: If you don’t know how to create an opt-in form, no worries. Empowerism has a foolproof build your own tool made just for you! Just click below and create an account: at: Empowerism
Contests very often prove to be a good way to generate traffic and buzz for your business. Create a contest and put a form on your site or in a pop-up box. The entry “fee” is their email address.
Most people give their website link when they place solo ads, ezine ads, or other marketing messages. To be one step ahead of the game in collecting email addresses, LIST YOUR AUTORESPONDER ADDRESS instead of your URL. This way you can capture email addresses and funnel them into your follow-up sales letters.
-Word to the Wise: Don’t have an autoresponder? GetResponse will give you one for free. Just click below and create a free account: at: GetResponse
=> Way #7JUST ASK
If you’re chatting with a prospect on the phone or a potential customer stops by your place of business, don’t be shy: ask for an email address or business card (which usually includes their email address).

a la 30 day success formula

By Flowetic with No comments

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Building a Marketing Team: Article 2

Music marketing takes work, lots of it, and you can’t do it alone. As we discussed in part one of building a music marketing team, you are the CEO, the person in charge and responsible for the vision, direction, and the financial foundation of your career or record label. As CEO one of your main jobs has got to be building a team around you that you can trust and count on to carry out your vision. The first person you should find or recruit would be your vice president or COO - Chief Operating Officer. This person is your right hand man or woman and should be somebody that you can spend a lot of time with, be able to bounce ideas off, trust that they will follow through with your direction and vision, and someone that you can fight or disagree with, yet still advance your career or record label.

COO Overview

The VP of your career or record label is responsible for carrying out your word or direction to the entire staff. This is accomplished through daily management, the direct overseeing of duties needed to accomplish your vision. The vice president of your company needs to be a team player not just a manager. This person needs to get along with the entire staff, know how to resolve disputes among staff members, know how to lead by example, and know how to motivate a team through achievement awards and praise rather then through scare tactics. Your VP is directly responsible for how your music marketing vision is carried out from the janitor’s daily duties up through your Marketing Director’s daily staff assignments.

Many times a VP is also the CMO - Chief Marketing Officer in small companies or record labels. As companies grow a Marketing Director or CMO will be brought on to allow the VP more general overseeing duties of a company’s direction rather than direct contact with the Individual activities themselves. A VP spends most of his time planning, reviewing, and adjusting the means in which a CEOs vision of the company’s music marketing campaign is acted upon. He reports directly to the CEO, usually on a daily basis, and is responsible for an accurate reporting of the progress or setbacks a music marketing campaign faces.

Daily Schedule:


Unlike the company’s CEO, the VP must be tied to his e-mail account on a continual basis throughout the day. Staff members, outside vendors, producers, promoters, venue owners, radio stations, and the press all use e-mail to communicate needs, wants, and desires to an independent record label. This means only checking e-mail in the morning, at lunch, or at night before going home will not keep the vice president aware of anything needed at a moments notice. Marketing music, effectively, requires that a response is given or an action is taken immediately after receiving the request. A cell phone capable of receiving e-mail and sending e-mail is a must-have item for any VP.


While going through e-mails a VPs day will start to form. Important, must do items, should be placed on an immediate list that is only for those items that must be accomplished before anything else. Items on this list would include ink for a printer, deadlines for turning in ad copy for magazine advertisements, or interviews with the press or media about a particular strategy of your campaign. A second list should be started that contains items that are not critical to the outcome of a successful marketing campaign. Things on this list would include meetings for future planning, meetings with outside vendors for future concepts or ideas, or anything else that would not slow down or stop the daily progress of the current music marketing strategy being employed by you or your record label.

The hardest part of a VPs job is setting up a schedule. As time goes on and your VP sees what is needed on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis they will know what to schedule for, what to avoid in their schedule, and how to best use their time to reach your vision. But, just starting out, they will make mistakes. You have got to allow your VP the ownership of his or her schedule. Meaning, you have to allow for the mistakes, you have to allow for some wasted time, and you have to allow for successes. The only way a VP can get his or her schedule under control is through trial and error.

The VPs daily planning must include time a for the unexpected. This is accomplished by building in downtime in a schedule. If there is no unexpected events, the VP can use this time to interact with his or her staff, have side meetings about particular actions, or simply review what is being done and how to increase the effectiveness of the entire staff.

A good VP will have the entire staff send an email at the end of their workday detailing their efforts made throughout the day to advance the companies vision. As the VP is going through e-mails what is needed will become obvious, what can wait should be put on a future to do list, and what needs more time spent for planning should be on another list. Each day the VP should review these staff e-mails and create the next days action plan.

Meeting with the CEO

After the VP has gone through his or her e-mail and developed a starter agenda for the day, the two of you will need to meet and discuss what is most important, what can be saved for another day, and what may need to be discussed further to ensure the proper action is taken. This is the time you should listen. Again, the best way to manage a vice president is to allow him or her the ability to run a staff the way they see fit as long as your vision is carried out. By you listening, and not directing, you will be able to make a judgment call as to whether or not your vision is being met through your vice president’s actions and interactions with your staff. This also gives your VP a sense of ownership in your record label. This doesn’t mean he or she actually owns the record label, it only means that they can take pride in their work because it is their work.

When you’re first starting out with you will find that you may need more than one meeting a day with your VP. As your relationship builds, you and your VP should get a sense of what method best works to get the desired results and move your vision forward. Meaning, your VP should be able to anticipate what you want, when you want it, and how you want it acted upon with out having to meet with you before assigning individual jobs to the rest of the staff. But, before this relationship is developed, it is highly advised that you meet with your VP daily, as early as possible, to ensure your vision is being acted upon and carried out by your entire staff in the most effective manner possible.

Action Planning the Follow Through

Another important part of a VPs planning is to create benchmarks or ways to ensure the plan has been carried out properly from the staff. This would include progress reports from all staff members, forwarded e-mail correspondence from outside vendors or press, or marketing material created for review. A VP should never plan an action without additionally planning a follow through action. Meaning, a VP cannot simply assign the task to a staff member to never check to see that it has been completed. Therefore, during a planning session, the VP must also future plan how he or she is going to follow up on each particular task assigned. The best method for this is to determine how long an assigned task will take and place a follow through meeting with the individual responsible for the task on the calendar for the day after the task should be complete.

Staff Meeting

Once you and your VP have met, your VP should hold a staff meeting. You should not attend this meeting. The only way your staff is going to respect the VP’s authority is to give it to him or her. If you attend the daily staff meetings, your staff will only think the VP is a talking puppet. What this causes is a staff that will be bothering you with questions throughout the day instead of utilizing the VP. You want your VP to handle the entire staff.

The staff meeting is a way for all members of your staff to discuss the agenda for the day, what transpired the previous day, and what might need attention or changes to get a better result from actions assigned. This meeting should not be long, less then an hour, unless a major campaign or music marketing strategy is being worked that needs additional time. This staff meeting has got to be a safe place where the entire staff knows your VP will listen and respond to their requests. It has to be in a relaxed environment that allows for creativity to unfold and ideas to be exchanged.

Personal Action Time

Once the VP completes his or her staff meeting they will need time for additional planning and personal action. Your VP should get feedback from the staff that will need to be placed on the next day, a week, or months planning agenda. In addition, the VP will get feedback as to what action items they need to personally take to help the staff do their jobs more effectively. Once your VP has amended the action plans for the day he or she should send you a revised schedule.

One-on-one meetings

During the staff meeting your VP will find that individual staff members need personal attention or specific details to carry out the task they are assigned. It is best for the individual staff members and your VP to meet one-on-one so that the rest of the staff can continue with their action items to be more effective. It is important that the one-on-one meetings be documented, action items are assigned, and benchmarks or tracking methods are put in place to ensure the meetings outcome is successful.

End of day wrap up

The VP is responsible for the action items your staff takes to meet your vision. Throughout his or her day they should be overseeing that the individual actions of each member of your team are headed in the right direction to move the company towards your music marketing vision. He or she must understand what each staff member’s job is, how to do it themselves, and what the most effective way is to carry out all tasks assigned. At the end of the day he or she should document all progress, setbacks, and communication he or she has had with staff members, outside vendors, or any other person he or she makes contact with throughout the day. The only way you know where your company is headed is by knowing what your staff is doing at all times. Since you do not have time to oversee each staff member’s duties, it is the sole responsibility of your VP to the e-mail you a daily update as to how your vision is being reached.
Article 3:
CMO, Marketing Director, Creative Director, McGyver, or...
“The Crazy Person in the Corner”

Article 4:
CCO, Street Team Leader, Gang Leader, or...
“The Person Who Likes to Hear Themselves Talk Even When No One is Listening!”

Article 5:
CCD, Creative Director, Dreamer, Craftsperson, The Inspired One, or...
“The Cool Kid on the Staff”

Article 6:
CPO, General Manager, Grunt, Labor Enforcer, Pee-On, or...
“The Person Who Likes to Roll Up Their Sleeves and Get the Job Done!”

Article 7:
Working as a team

(more posts in the future)

a la

By Zak with No comments

Building a Music Marketing Team: Article 1

There is a lot of talk about music marketing on the internet. How to do it, where to do it, when to do it, and why marketing your music is so important, but it can all become overwhelming to say the least. If you follow all the advise given, on your own, you would not have any time left to actually be creative or stay focused on the music you are trying to market. It is the biggest difference between independent artists/labels and major labels. In the major label system an artist or group still has time for the music while the major’s “team” handles the business. As an independent artist you have to be everything to everyone at all times. You have to create the music, market the music, negotiate the contracts, get gigs, handle publicity, and follow everything up in a timely manor. Going it alone is pretty impossible.

Music marketing is a team sport. You can not go out on the field alone and expect to “win the game!” You have to surround yourself with players that want to be in the game with you, have the abilities you are looking for, and know how to work as a team unit rather than as individuals. Your team does not have to be made of professional players to win. Yes, having a full time consultant or professional manager could help you win the  game easier and faster, but it is not necessary in the sport of music marketing. What is necessary is commitment, drive, and follow through from each of your players. People that you can surround yourself with that believe in your vision as much as you who want to see the success like you do and are willing to put in what ever amount of time it takes to succeed.

As an independent going it alone it is very hard to “know” what you need in a team member, what each member’s duties should be, and how to properly manage each individual member’s skill set to best work within your team dynamics. Just having “bodies” can hurt your efforts more than doing it yourself. Without direction, “bodies” become a distraction - a distraction you do not have time to continuously manage.

This article will detail the core team members you need to better market your music, what their job duties entail, and how to best manage their positions within your team’s environment. As your career or label progresses there are many more positions you will need to staff, however, before you expand your staff, your core team will need to know what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how to oversee additional staff members as the need arrises. Basically, do not get ahead of yourself and add more people to your staff than you can manage on your own. Even major, international, record labels depend on only a handful of core team members to run the entire operation, Usually between three and five. These team members are invaluable while the additional 1500 - 3000 staff members found at a major, international, record labels can come and go without interruption to the label’s operation or objectives. This is achieved through delegating responsibilities, excellent management, and constant communication, from top down, through out the entire organization and it’s team members.

Core Team Members:
Your core team needs to consist of yourself and five other team members. As you start your career/label you may only have the resources available for you and one other person. That is ok. It simply means you will wear many hats until you find the right person for the job. Be warned, do not just put someone in a position. Make sure you find the right person for the job or you will be sorry down the road when you have to replace them for a more competent person. Firing friends or family members is a very hard thing to do. It is your core function as CEO to build a well oiled machine of core team members that can help you reach your vision!

CEO, President, Head Honcho, The Boss, El Jefe, King, or...
“The Person with the Plan”

COO, Vice President, Second in Charge, Workhorse, or...
“The Person who Really Makes it Happen”

CMO, Marketing Director, Creative Director, McGyver, or...
“The Crazy Person in the Corner”

CCO, Street Team Leader, Gang Leader, or...
“The Person Who Likes to Hear Themselves Talk Even When No One is Listening!”

CCD, Creative Director, Dreamer, Craftsperson, The Inspired One, or...
“The Cool Kid on the Staff”

CPO, General Manager, Grunt, Labor Enforcer, Pee-On, or...
“The Person Who Likes to Roll Up Their Sleeves and Get the Job Done!”

Individual Team Member Responsibilities & Daily Schedule:


The CEO, Chief Operating Officer, of your team is you. It’s your career/label and you have the vision. Your job is to let your team know your vision, oversee the entire vision as it is carried out by your team, continuously come up with new ideas to better realize your vision, and to set up your music industry business to operate within the community as a legitimate business entity. More importantly, it is your job to listen to your team, as they are the ones carrying out your vision, and adjust your methodology as needed and suggested from your team. A good CEO knows they are not in the streets, talking to the fans, working the marketing strategies, or doing the daily duties of the organization. For this reason, the CEO knows they must be open, ready to trust their team’s advise, and allow their team to “run with the ball” on an as-needed basis.

As a CEO of an independent music career/label, you will find that you must wear many hats. Budgeting, book keeping, contract negotiations, and legal duties will fall upon your shoulders in your daily duties as well as being the CEO. These are “make or break” jobs in any new or established business and you need to make sure you handle these duties yourself so you know where your career/label stands financially at all times. As your career/label grows, you will hire a CFO, Chief Financial Officer, and hand these duties over to them. The CFO will eventually hire book keepers under them to handle the increase of workload as your organization grows.

A CEO needs to be trusting, yet questioning. This allows your team the ability to “think on their own” to better get the job done, knowing you trust them to do their job. Questioning does not mean inspecting, interrogating, or accusing. It simply means knowing what each of your core members are doing at all times so you can ensure actions are inline with your vision. As CEO, the best thing you can do for your team is trust them and stay out of their way allowing them to work in a manor that suites them best to help you reach your vision. Micromanaging, or making your team do as you would do only, results in an unhappy team, less productivity, and a higher rate of core team members leaving your organization.

Daily Schedule:

Email -

A CEO’s daily schedule is hectic. It starts with checking email to see what has transpired over night and to create a “To Do” list for the day. Determine an amount of time you will spend each day on email and stick to it. Most CEOs only allow 30 minutes at the start of their day to check email, then another thirty minutes after lunch, and an additional 30 minutes at the end of the day. This allows the CEO not to get distracted through out the day with constantly checking email! This is a total time waster and diverts you away from your core function, being the visionary of your career/label.

Planning -
Once you get through your email, you will need to spend alone time reflecting yesterday’s team actions, accomplishments, and set backs. As you are reflecting you should add to your “To Do” list and start to create “meeting topics.” Your meeting topics should be items of concern, “pats on the back” for a good job done, visionary ideas, questions that you may have on yesterday’s actions and activities, or anything else you feel needs to be brought up in your daily strategy meeting. Each of your core team members should be doing this each morning as well. As CEO you have to allow planning time to your entire staff. With out time to think and plan, your meetings will accomplish very little as your staff will not have much to say. However, as CEO it is your job to watch and listen in the strategy meeting to ensure your staff is using the time given to actually plan rather than surf on myspace!

Strategy Meeting -
You should set a daily strategy meeting and make sure your meetings start on time. Only allow one hour for this meeting. This will keep you on point and moving forward rather than daydreaming or hashing out specifics for an entire day when there is work to be done. If/when you find that a particular topic needs more time devoted to it, schedule a one on one meeting with the core team member whos job it is that needs attention. There is no reason to dive into specifics with your CCD, Chief Creative Director, while the other core team members could be working toward your vision! Strategy meetings are not “gripe” sessions. They are meant to be motivating and planning meetings to push your vision forward. If/when you have gripes with your core team address them individually, in private. Begin your meeting with the questions and agenda you created in your own planning time. Be sure to write down answers, additional questions, and action items that come about during your meeting. It is wise to either record the meeting with a micro recorder or assign one person to take good, complete, readable, notes. As you move through your agenda you will find that more attention is needed on specific topics. Make sure you take note and schedule a time later in the day with the core team member that is responsible for the topic that needs the additional time. Once you go through your own notes and agenda allow your core team time for their own agenda in this order; COO, CMO, CCO, CCD, CPO. Remember to take notes, schedule meeting for additional time needed, and create an action list for each core team member as they present their agenda. An action list is very important. It is how you, as CEO of your organization, can stay on top of what is to be done, what is in progress, and what has been completed by your team. It is the only way for you to track the efforts of your team.  As CEO, it is your job to ensure your vision is being met by your core team in a timely manor. Team members that fall behind effect the entire teams ability to progress forward.

Personal Action Time -
After you have completed your team meeting you need to allow yourself and each of your team members time for themselves to act upon the agenda that was created during your strategy meeting. This is the time for you to make phone calls, write letters, research, or do whatever else you determine is needed to help your team reach their objectives. As CEO you are the grease that makes the “wheel” of your team roll down the road easier. This means you are the face of the company, you make initial contact with key vendors, service providers, or industry personnel. This does not mean you do the work needed. That is your core team’s job. During your personal action time you might call a key tour promoter and simply reach out to them to make contact, let them know that one of your team members will be contacting them for additional information and actions needed to seal the deal, and that you are just reaching out to find out who needs to be contacted on the promoters team, the best method for contacting, or if there is anything special your team member can provide to make the deal happen. Basically, the grease that makes the process turn easier. This is a hard concept to fully realize. A lot of new CEOs want to get in the way and feel it would be easier to go ahead and do the deal while they are on the phone with the promoter. On the outside, this may look to be the easiest method and that it would cut out a middle person. And when you first start your career/label this may be the case. But what happens in six months why you are running a full on campaign and may be sitting at an airport in London to to Germany after you just did a show in Africa? If you do not put your core team member in the mix of communications from the very beginning, that same tour promoter will only want to deal with you and you simply will not have the time to “seal the deal.” You and your entire team looses because you “just did the deal to get it done!” Your personal action time is for you to be a CEO and make contacts, follow up on your staff’s actions, and take the time needed to ensure your vision is being accomplished through your teams actions.

Break Time -

If your day starts in the morning you can call this lunch. If you start your day after noon call this dinner. It does not matter what you call it, just do it. You and your entire staff needs break time. Personal time to get away from the hectic schedule, stress, and each other. Do not make your staff take their break with you unless they want to. Encourage them to leave the office and to do what other “business” people do like pay personal bills, get their car washed, etc. It has been proven time and again that people need personal time, away from the boss and other team members, to refresh, renew, and get their mind straight for the rest of the day! Allow it and take the time for yourself as well. A burned out CEO that overworks offers nothing but bad attitude to their team members. This will only slow the rate at which you reach your vision, not speed it up because you don’t take breaks. Learn it, live it, and live by it - you have to take personal time for yourself and allow your team to do the same.

One-on-One Meetings -
After your break it is time to start having meetings with your staff on an individual basis. As your career/label grows you will hand this duty over to your COO, but as you begin, it will be your daily job to keep your finger on the pulse of your business by meeting with each care team member to be updated on progress. These meeting need to be kept to under 30 minutes unless their is a real need to extend the time to ensure a project is being completed. By keeping your meetings short you are handing your team members the ability to think and plan on their own. You are giving them ownership of their job, meaning you are giving them the trust needed to take the required actions to reach your vision on their own and in a manor they see fit and best work for success. This is important. You must not micro manage your team. Let them live, or die, by their own actions or inactions. This is the only way you will know they can hold down the fort while you are away. You have to be able to depend on each of your core team members. These one-on-one meetings allow you to see what they are doing, how they are progressing from day to day, and where they may need help. As CEO, your job is to guide them to better decisions when needed, give encouragement in hard circumstances, and offer a “pat on the back” as you see progress. Remember, your core team will soon be hiring their own assistants and workers, your one-on-one meetings will show them how they should conduct themselves while managing their own staff. This is how you ensure your organization’s values are retained as your organizations grows. Very, Very, Important! Organizations loose focus, change directions, or completely shut down when growing because of lose of “culture” as more and more employees are hired and trained by others than the CEO. Create action plans with your team member during your meeting. Make them accountable for when they will complete a job or project. This is the only way you will be able to track their individual actions ensuring your vision is being met.

Your one-on-one meeting times will vary depending on your schedule and the schedule of your team. This is also the time for “outside” meeting with various vendors, service providers, and the like. Be sure to get updates to outside meetings your team conducts and do the same for your team and update them as to what meeting you have had and what the outcome was and how it effects them and their department individually. Plan for five hours of meetings and allow the same time for your staff to conduct their own meetings. If you do not have meeting scheduled on a particular day this allows you time as CEO to plan, research, and create the vision for your organization. Again, allow your team the same time so they can better do the job you have assigned them. Every team member needs to keep a schedule and when the schedule allows, they need time to plan, research, and act upon your vision.

End of Day Wrap Up -
Your day should end first with emails and pressing phone calls and then move into reflection time. Sounds crazy, but again, you need time to reflect upon the days activities and actions and plan for tomorrow. Allow yourself 30 minutes for email/phone calls and another 30 minutes for reflecting. Use your reflection time to start your agenda for tomorrows group, strategy, meeting. Daydream! Simply ponder where you see yourself in 3 months, one year, and beyond. Then create the vision in your mind of what you need to do to get there. As you allow yourself this time you will start to see the path you need to take. This does not mean you will know how to go down a path or what individual steps need to be taken, that is for your team to help you discover, but you will see the broad paths, the overall concepts, and the vision of your career/label and this is the true job of a CEO!

As you can see, detailing each team member’s duty takes a lot of paper.... or since we are in the internet world... screen space. This article will be divided into 7 parts. This being the first of the six, covering the overview and the CEO position in your career/label. In the next six articles we will discuss each roll of the remaining five core team members positions and end with a broad overview of how your team works as unit to reach your vision.

Article 2:
COO, Vice President, Second in Charge, Workhorse, or...
“The Person who Really Makes it Happen”

Article 3:
CMO, Marketing Director, Creative Director, McGyver, or...
“The Crazy Person in the Corner”

Article 4:
CCO, Street Team Leader, Gang Leader, or...
“The Person Who Likes to Hear Themselves Talk Even When No One is Listening!”

Article 5:
CCD, Creative Director, Dreamer, Craftsperson, The Inspired One, or...
“The Cool Kid on the Staff”

Article 6:
CPO, General Manager, Grunt, Labor Enforcer, Pee-On, or...
“The Person Who Likes to Roll Up Their Sleeves and Get the Job Done!”

Article 7:
Working as a team

a la I am music network

By Zak with No comments

Artist Development. How to create an outstanding image, and develop your "IT" factor.

Before you can market yourself as an artist you must determine who you are and what you represent as an atist.  We have all heard about the illusive “IT” factor. It’s when an artist has the “holy” gift of stage presence, look, feel, personal charisma, and ability to “fit in” no matter the situation. It’s what record labels, managers, and agents look for in artist before signing them to multimillion dollar deals, well, before the collapse of the music industry.... anyway... Some think you are born with the “IT” factor, others think it’s total crap, and then there are those of us who know that the “IT” factor is a combination of natural talent, hard work, and artist development training.

Natural talent is not something you can learn or force an artist to acquire. It is the God given talent we all possess in one form or another. An artist either has talent or they don’t. Too many individuals or record label CEOs believe that a person with a good look, good heart, and strong desire to be in the music industry can be trained to have the talent needed to succeed. It simply is not true. Yes, a singer that really isn’t the best singer can succeed if they have the talent to dance or entertain a crowd. Their talent is in performance not singing. We see this to be true in many pop stars careers, but they at least have the talent to entertain a large crowd. That is there natural talent. People do not go to a Britney Spears show to listen to her sing, they go to see the show, and it sells out every single time! But even Britney has gone through massive artist development to ensure her show is the best in the industry.

Artist development training is not hard, it’s time consuming. It takes time, effort, drive, follow through, and commitment to get it right. It is not something you do one time and think you have it. Artist development coaches spend hours each week working with artists for their entire career. A great example is Beyonce. When she first hit the scene, her vocal performance was, well let’s say less than perfect. She had a heck of a stage show and captivated the audience, but she really was not the best singer out there. Over time, with dedicated artist development, Beyonce can now hold her head high and stand toe to toe with the best singers releasing CDs today. She accomplished this through artist development training.

There is a huge misunderstanding of what artist development really is. Some fear it means changing who they are, what they do, how they talk, or how they appear to their fans. Others think it is a form of “selling out.” Artist development is finding your inner strengths, and weaknesses, as an artist and making sure they are the best they can be. It is not being something you are not. If you have two left feet when trying to dance, there is no amount of training that will allow you to be a professional dancer. However, with the right artist development, you will learn how to at least move on stage with the music in a way that looks much better than standing there stiff!

Artist development is not genre specific. Meaning is does not matter what genre of music you perform. Even the most heavy of thrash metal bands work on stage appearance and show. No, they aren’t going to learn the latest dance steps to work into their show, but they are going to work on a type of choreography that allows the members of the band to move around stage in a manor that looks the best instead of one big cluster.... you know the rest! Artist development has no bounds. It effects every single action an artist or group takes while performing, promoting, or living in the entertainment business. Yes, I said living. Even when an artist or group is away from the stage, away from the fans... so they think, and on their own time they have to be on their “A” game and know how to act or react at any given moment. There is no “off switch” in the music business. Fans do not care if you are on stage, in your car, at 7-11, or trying to grab a bite to eat at McDonalds. They only want to get close to you no matter the situation. Artist development trains you how to act, when to act, what to do, where to do it, what to say, when to say nothing, and beyond. Artist development is all encompassing of your life in the music industry. It teaches you how to have that “IT” factor no matter the situation.

An entire book could be written on artist development tricks, tips, and techniques in itself. This article is meant to get you started with artist development. There will be future articles which dive deeper into specifics, but for now, here are some steps you can take immediately to improve you or your artists “IT” factor.

Interviewing Skills
Have you ever listened to a radio or TV interview and heard “well, uh, you know, I, uh, well, you know, uh work hard at my show.” Unfortunately, this is the norm, not the exception when it comes to new artist interviews. When you hear an interview that sounds like this, you know that there was absolutely no time spent with this artist working on interviewing skills training. The easiest way to avoid sounding like a fool is to work on interviews. Grab a video camera, find someone to interview you or your artist, and do it daily. Start with friends or family members to get used to being interviewed. Then ask your friends to invite their friends over to do the same. This way, you or your artist doesn’t know the interviewer and it’s more of a pressure situation. The more you practice at interviewing the better you will be. In addition, by being interviewed over and over you will start to develop standard answers to common questions. This is very important. You or your artist will be asked the same questions over and over again. Finding the standard answers, and knowing them without thinking makes it appear as if you or your artist has that “IT” factor and always on the “A” game. Tape the interviews so you or your artist can listen or watch them in review. This gives the ability to see what is wrong, correct it, and find the answers needed to always come across professional.

Stage Show
What does your current stage show and presence look like? Do you really know? Have you ever video taped a performance? When you are rehearsing for a show start video taping the rehearsal. Do not just work on your songs and playing or singing them correctly. Start working on what it is you and or your group is going to do during each song. Another words, start working on choreography. Oh, no, not choreography! Yes, again, even hard core rap groups work out what they will do on stage. Choreography does not mean dance routines. It means working out what you or each member of the group will do during each song. If you are a rock band it can mean the singer starts the song from on top of the drum riser while the guitar player and bass player stand at the front of the stage with one foot on the monitor. Then, during the chorus of the song the singer jumps off the riser and the guitar player and bass player cross behind and go to opposite sides of the stage. No body danced, but they did move as a unit making it look like they had put time and effort into their performance. It doesn’t matter how good a singer or group you are, fans go to live performances to see a show. If they wanted to hear a good version of the music they would pop in a CD. This does not mean your music can suck, but it does mean your fans paid good money to see what you have to offer on stage. This is the “IT” factor fans are looking for at live shows. Work on your show, video tape it, and figure out a way to make your show look as big as it can possibly be. Oh, and by the way, perform your rehearsed show no matter if you have a crowd of 1500 or 15. National acts got to be national because they had the stage show and presence to win over any sized crowd! They only got this by working on the show portion of artist development.

Daily Life
Just because you are not on stage, signing autographs, or being interviewed on TV does not mean you can let your guard down. What if you are at Starbucks one morning after a wild night, looking all ragged out, and a reporter recognizes you and asks for an interview? Do you tell them not now? That would be stupid. Why let a good opportunity for press coverage be lost because you weren’t ready? An artist that has worked on artist development would know to be honest and say, “Hey, it was a long night last night. I just hoped out of bed to get some coffee and need a minute to get it together. Can I buy you another cup of coffee while I go home, get cleaned up, and I will be back in thirty minutes to answer any questions you have, I would love to do the interview.” What about partying at a club? What if that same reporter shows up at your favorite spot while you are letting loose and you are acting a fool? It wouldn’t be good. The follow up interview would present you in a bad way. Your daily life as an artist or group has got to present itself as someone who has the “IT” factor at all times. Knowing what to say, when to say it, and where to let loose only comes from practice. Sit down, write out a list of questions and/or situations you think may come up in your daily life as an artist or group. Now, ask your friends and family to do the same thing. Once you have your lists you need to take the time to determine how, what, when, or where you would handle the questions or situation. Then, make a cheat sheet and have someone drill you over and over everyday until you have the list memorized. This is artist development at it’s finest. This will prepare you for any question or situation that may arise in your career as a music industry entertainer. But wait, there’s more... Don’t stop looking for questions or situations, ever. Always be on the look out what you don’t know. Sounds crazy, yes, but so true. As you are watching or listening to your favorite artists on TV or radio listen to the questions or see the situations they get into and how they handle them. Let this be a guide for you to create your own list. How would you handle the question or situation? This type of artist development is never ending. The more prepared you are for the unknown the more you will seem to have the “IT” factor.

We have briefly covered the three major areas of an artists career. There are many, many more areas of artist development that will be covered in the future. This article is a starting point more to get you thinking than to give you all the answers. Look at your favorite artists or groups and try to find what you think gives them the “IT” factor that has drawn you in as a fan. Don’t be lazy and say “it’s the music.” There are far too many artists and groups in the world that are just as good as your favorite but you are not drawn to them for a reason. Find the reason in your favorite artist. This is the illusive “IT” factor you are after. You do not want to copy another artist or group, but you can model yourself after them. What is it they do that makes you want to learn more about them? Is it the show, how they carry themselves, their background as revealed during interviews and press coverage, or is it something totally different? Your job as an artist with life long career goals is to develop yourself into something fans will want to know more about. The only way you can do this is by looking at yourself, looking at artists you respect, and figuring out what is different. Once you take this step, all that is left is to develop yourself through concentrated artist development training!

a la I am Music Network

By Zak with 1 comment

Monday, March 7, 2011

Permision Marketing: Getting your Consumer to want to hear your Message

Permission Marketing

Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.
It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.
Pay attention is a key phrase here, because permission marketers understand that when someone chooses to pay attention they are actually paying you with something precious. And there's no way they can get their attention back if they change their mind. Attention becomes an important asset, something to be valued, not wasted.
Real permission is different from presumed or legalistic permission. Just because you somehow get my email address doesn't mean you have permission. Just because I don't complain doesn't mean you have permission. Just because it's in the fine print of your privacy policy doesn't mean it's permission either.
Real permission works like this: if you stop showing up, people complain, they ask where you went.
I got a note from a Daily Candy reader the other day. He was upset because for three days in a row, his Daily Candy newsletter hadn't come. That's permission.
Permission is like dating. You don't start by asking for the sale at first impression. You earn the right, over time, bit by bit.
One of the key drivers of permission marketing, in addition to the scarcity of attention, is the extraordinarily low cost of dripping to people who want to hear from you. RSS and email and other techniques mean you don't have to worry about stamps or network ad buys every time you have something to say. Home delivery is the milkman's revenge... it's the essence of permission.
Permission doesn't have to be formal but it has to be obvious. My friend has permission to call me if he needs to borrow five dollars, but the person you meet at a trade show has no such ability to pitch you his entire resume, even though he paid to get in.
Subscriptions are an overt act of permission. That's why home delivery newspaper readers are so valuable, and why magazine subscribers are worth more than newsstand ones.
In order to get permission, you make a promise. You say, "I will do x, y and z, I hope you will give me permission by listening." And then, this is the hard part, that's all you do. You don't assume you can do more. You don't sell the list or rent the list or demand more attention. You can promise a newsletter and talk to me for years, you can promise a daily RSS feed and talk to me every three minutes, you can promise a sales pitch every day (the way Woot does). But the promise is the promise until both sides agree to change it. You don't assume that just because you're running for President or coming to the end of the quarter or launching a new product that you have the right to break the deal. You don't.
Permission doesn't have to be a one-way broadcast medium. The internet means you can treat different people differently, and it demands that you figure out how to let your permission base choose what they hear and in what format.
When I launched my book that coined this phrase 9 years ago, I offered people a third of the book for free in exchange for an email address. And I never, ever did anything with those addresses again. That wasn't part of the deal. No follow ups, no new products. A deal's a deal.
If it sounds like you need humility and patience to do permission marketing, you're right. That's why so few companies do it properly. The best shortcut, in this case, is no shortcut at all.

A La Seth Godin's Blog

By Zak with No comments

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Why some websites claiming to sell your music are scams

Platinum Songwriter & Producer SG-1 from Tha PieceMakerz explains, why its hard to sell beats online, and how to get your Beats to sell, so you can make a real living from your Profession, and why some websites are designed to get you there to pay them.

By Zak with No comments

Thursday, February 10, 2011

10 easy steps to finding the right blog to promote your music.

cds stacked
Jon Ostrow is the co-founder of MicControl, a music blogging network based on a music social networking platform. This post originally appeared on the MicControl blog on October 14, 2010. Jon can be found on Twitter (@MicControl) and Facebook.
For emerging artists, music blogs present a unique opportunity as a prominent and well respected source of new music recommendations, while maintaining an unprecedented level of accessibility. As music blogs become more desired by fans, bloggers are seeking out more and more music to offer their reader base. For bloggers, high value means stronger reader base and engagement.
So for you, an emerging artist, a large part of your marketing strategy should be to receive promotion from music bloggers. However without any direction, finding the right blogs to get involved with can be difficult.

Here is a checklist of 10 important things to keep in mind that will greatly increase your chances of success when seeking and reaching out to music blogs:

1. Pick the proper keywords for blog research

There are many great search tools and mp3 aggregators that allow you to search for music blogs located all around the net. However, unless you have taken the time to choose the proper keywords, you may find it difficult to really sniff out the blogs that best fit you and your music.
Try testing out keywords from all over the spectrum – words that may reflect your style of music, your fans, your influences and even your peers within the emerging scene around you.
Go for words that are specific rather than broad – “indie rock” may get you results, but its not going to help you pinpoint anything. However, searching specific bands like “Broken Bells” (an indie rock band) may do a better job of showing you which blogs have covered similar styles of music.

2. Think nationally (or internationally) AND locally


While bigger blogs (with strong engagement of course) are always a good thing, don’t overlook local bloggers as well. Regional bloggers that cover entertainment of all types are a great way to build upon the presence and influence in your own local market, not to mention it is a great way increase attendance at upcoming performances.

3. Strong use of social amplification tools

A way to increase your presence online and through the promotion received by blogs is the use of social amplification tools such as the Twitter “Tweet” button, the Facebook “Like” button, Digg’s “Digg it” button, Reddit buttons, etc.
There are an incredible amount of tools out there, however the Twitter and Facebook buttons seem to be the most popular and most widely used. Make sure that the blogs you get involved with are set up to allow their readers and amplify your content cross-platform.
NOTE: This is also a very helpful way of determining reader engagement. Some blogs may have very few comments, but hundreds of retweets and Facebook likes.

4. Is there strong reader engagement?

Far too often, musicians will focus on the size of the reader-base rather than focus on the amount of engagement that a blog has. This is a big mistake that could waste your time and effort when trying to get in touch with a blog. Especially as an emerging artist, you want to put your effort into blogs that have a decent sized reader-base, but have even stronger engagement. A blog with 1000 readers and 500 people interacting regularly is infinitely more beneficial than a blog with 10,000 readers and little to no engagement.
Right now, your purpose is not to maximize exposure, but to develop a meaningful fan base and genuine relationships. Reader engagement should be one of the most important components in the criteria guidelines you setup for finding and connecting with the right blogs.

5. Does the blogger maintain good practices when using social media?

Just like an artist, bloggers are building a brand around valuable content, strong relationships, and influencing power. And just like artists, bloggers are also using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Twitter to expand their reach and help them build upon the brand forming around their content. When you are looking into blogs, do a little research and check out that blogger’s use of social media.
Keep any sort of tips that you have received as an artist in mind – they can all be applied to evaluate how well a blogger uses other forms of social media.
  • How often are they using social media?
  • Is there original content on the blog or is it just aggregating other RSS feeds?
  • How strong is the reader engagement?

6. Does the blogger have influence?

blogger influence

Obviously, you want to ensure that whomever you become involved with, they have the sort of influence across the web to ensure that your association with their blog is a meaningful occurrence. Do a quick Google search of the blog name, as well as the name of the author, and ask yourself these questions:
  • How high do they appear on google search?
  • Does the blogger gain recognition by other bloggers?
  • Has the blogger ever been featured, guest posted, or have had content syndicated on other blogs?
Not only do you want to do a regular Google search, but it would also be helpful to run a search using Google Blog Search, which searches only through the blogosphere.
There are also ways to gage just how influential a blogger is on other platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Klout is a fantastic, FREE service that allows you to gain some insight into the influence of a person across both Twitter and Facebook.

7. Is there positive engagement?

Unfortunately, there are just some blogs out there where readers troll each article, just looking for something to rip a new asshole. While the old saying goes ‘any press is good press’, you will want to take this into consideration when looking for a blog to get involved with. You just may not find it a pleasurable experience, or even a beneficial experience if all of the engagement surrounding your post is negative.

8. Is your music the right fit?

This seems a bit obvious, but make sure that the music that you write, or are trying to promote is a proper fit for the blog. Although some blogs feature multiple genres of music, and may have great engagement on many of their posts, there may be some genres that the readers lack interest in as much as the others. You will want to make sure that that your style of music is well received and is engaging to the readers to make sure you maximize your potential outcome from the feature.

9. Choose the right media for each blog

Not all blogs focus on streaming or the downloads of mp3 files, choosing to use embedded videos as the preferred way to spotlight music. Making sure that you can offer a blogger your music in different forms of media is a great way to increase your chances of getting featured. Not to mention, if the reader base is used to a certain form of media, it will increase your chances for further engagement as they turn around and share the music with their friends and family through Facebook, Twitter and the like.

10. Your “demo” appeals to the blogger

Hopefully you don’t have 30 tracks that sound the same – if you do, you might want to consider going back to the drawing board. Assuming your music has some variety, you will want to make sure that your “demo” for the blogger, or the track that you either send or link to is the right fit for the blog and the audience of readers.
Say you happen to be an emerging hip-hop artist, but if the blog you are trying to get involved with specifically covers dub step, make sure you aren’t sending out something with an old-school sound. Even if the music is not your most recent release, make sure what you send is the right fit and you will greatly increase your chances of being featured.
What would YOU add to this checklist?

A la Tight Mix Blog

By Flowetic with No comments

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Viral Marketing for Musicians and Bands

By: Jerry A. Greene 
Question: How can we get our fans to encourage their friends to come to our shows, or even listen to our music?
Answer: The term "viral marketing" is being thrown around the music industry and for very good reason, it's one of the most effective ways of building your audience!

Built-in Trust Factor

When friends tell friends about something that they like, a buzz begins. They usually trust each other with information about new things that each discover and music is no different from a great burger place, a great tv show, or movie. The fact that a friend says, "you should listen to this band" makes it a lot more likely that you'll want to listen to a new band rather than, "Hey! You should listen to our music!" (coming directly from the band through their marketing). This is often how people find out about new music. Matter of fact, viral marketing (word-of-mouth) is one of the main ways we hear about "great things". When you think about how much advertising of poor products are directed out you daily, it's no wonder the trust-factor simply does not exist when we initally hear about something new coming from the mouth of the advertiser (in your case, you, or your band). This is why it is so important that you enourage positive word-of-mouth and do your best to stop bad word-of-mouth. Make sure that you always do things in an honest's that powerful!

Guerilla Marketing for Musicians

Marketing yourself by viral, or word-of-mouth means, is inexpensive because it is usually so easy to implement. Doing the right thing (integrity) and going out of your way to make your fans' experience with you amazing, while creating great music, will ensure that your fans help spread the word about you and your band!

Make Your Music Viral

Here are some great ways to get word-of-mouth circulating about you and your music:
  • Post videos of your band on YouTube.
  • Get your music on MySpace and other social networking sites.
  • Include a "forward this to a friend" link on your site and email communications.
  • Encourage your fans to bring their friends to your next show!
  • Offer two-for-one deals on ticket sales.


Simple Things You Can Do To Put You High In Your Fans' Minds'

  • Sign autographs at all of your shows
  • Offer autographed headshots for free.
  • Perform at benefits (non-profit events) simply for the good publicity.
  • Send free mp3 music downloads to your fans on your mailing list. Encourage them to pass the file on! 
a la

By Zak with No comments

Sublimnal Advertising and Modern Day Brain Washing

The advertising industry, a prominent and powerful industry, engages in deceptive subliminal advertising which most us are unaware of. By bypassing our unconscious mind using subliminal techniques, advertisers tap into the vulnerabilities surrounding our unconscious mind, manipulating and controlling us in many ways. Since the 1940's subliminal advertising blossomed until now, when you can find subliminals in every major advertisement and magazine cover. Legislation against the advertisers has had no effect in curbing the use of subliminals. In this Information Age, it seems people are no longer in control of the people. The ones in control are the ones with knowledge (as usual). In this case, the advertisers have it; you don't. Until now.

Advertisements bombard every minute of our lives. The advertising industry has penetrated into every aspect our this society. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I hear is my radio blaring out the latest ad for Sears or the Penn State Bookstore. At night, the last thing I see is the latest peroxide innovation on the toothpaste tube. Most of us ignore these ads as we drive by the Marlboro billboard on the way to work or to the countryside on a lovely day. However, most of us do not realize the mind games the advertisers has been playing on our subconscious minds for the past half century. It's a scary thought, really, when you realize the advertisers has gained control of our lives without us even knowing it.

Serendipity I stumbled onto this topic of subliminal messages in advertisements accidentally. Before I became familiar with this subject, I have heard of naked women in ice cubes floating on soft drinks. I have also heard of subliminal messages being flashed in theaters telling people to drink soda and eat popcorn. In fact, I have experimented with flashing messages on the computer screen using a program I made at the beginning of my senior year in computer science class. The subject of a subconscious mind being influenced without a person's knowledge greatly intrigues me. At a science symposium I have attended to present a research poster, I have listened to another presentation about the effects of subliminal stimuli on the left (logical) side of the brain. The presenter was off topic and was consequently marked by the judges. However, she has given me the impulse to further dwell on this topic. Some questions I have asked as I entered this research was, "Are there really naked women in ice cubes?" "If so, are they effective in influencing people?" And finally, "How do the advertisers put these subliminal messages into their ads?" With these objectives in mind, I have discovered the breadth of background knowledge I had to gather before I even attempt to analyze the ads. I had to learn about human perception, subconscious processing, advertising strategies, depth interviews, graphic design, and a plethora of sub-topics. Nonetheless, I have thoroughly enjoyed this research project.

In My Defense As I read through several of Dr. Wilson Bryan Key's books on subliminal advertising, I was amazed and shocked at the amount of filth and porn in the advertisements. If they were targeted for the conscious mind, the collection of these ads would turn into your average amateur hard-core. As I tried to show and explain some of these advertisements to my colleagues, the first and predominant response I got was "You have a sick mind." In defense of myself and all of the researchers who have studied these ads, I must point out that it is the advertisers who printed the ads. These researchers and I are simply bringing into your consciousness mind what your unconscious mind has absorbed already. It is easy to hide away and reject what we don't understand, as the Roman Catholic Church did to Galileo's theory of the universe. All that I ask is that you look into these ads and explanation with an open, even if skeptical mind.

Research Biases The existence of a subconscious mind and subliminal perception is still a controversy today. There is vast evidence for the existence of both, but the evidence is based on a methodology that is by nature not pure scientific. Despite the lack of conventional scientific evidence, I believe there exists a consciousness that lies outside of our normal awareness. Although I will later provide evidence, the paper assumes the existence of such a phenomenon.

Introduction What is your favorite ad on TV or in a magazine? Why do you like it? Is it the dry humor? Or the dramatic irony? Advertisers use subliminal techniques to put hidden messages into their ads. By now, your subconscious mind has a full load of them, each expertly targeted by the advertisers. Although the exact consequences are unknown, one can guess it is like being brainwashed every time you see an ad.

Heaving Breasts Do advertisers really put subliminal messages on their ads? Let's explore this topic. Go to the vending machine and buy a can of Diet Coke™. The can looks pretty ordinary--script letters on white bubbles floating on a silver can. Turn your attention now to the passion red glass on the lower left and hold the can arm's-length away from you. Do you see them now? Almost everyone I have shown the can to readily perceived the sexual image. Although this is the most blatant example of embedding I have discovered, Coca-Cola manages to get away with it by placing the image in an inconspicuous spot on the can, masked by the fizzing bubbles and bold print. Since Diet Coke is targeted at female consumers, it would seem illogical to embed female breasts onto the soda can. According to Dr. Wilson Bryan Key, "male genitalia in ads are usually directed to male audiences. Female genitalia are directed to females." I will explain later that subliminal images are most effective when associated with cultural taboos.

Subliminal Perception Apparently, subliminal perception is not a newly discovered physiological phenomenon used only by the advertising industry. Historical scholars such as Plato, Aristotle, and even texts such as the Bible have alluded to a subconscious phenomenon. Early artists, such as those in the Renaissance, have used subliminal techniques in their artwork. Aristotle first documented the relationship between dreams and the unconscious mind.

Impulses occurring in the daytime, if they are not very great and powerful, pass unnoticed because of greater waking impulses.

But in the time of sleep the opposite takes what often happens in sleep; men think that it is lightning and thundering when there are only faint echoes in their ears, and that they are enjoying honey and sweet flowers, when only a drop of phlegm is slipping down their throats.

Definition One of the controversies surrounding the existence of subliminal perception is its definition. Subliminal means "below threshold." An apple placed in complete darkness would be below the visual threshold for perception. It is not until the lighting on the apple increases to a sufficient level for recognition is it considered "above threshold." The minimum stimulation necessary to detect a particular stimulus (not necessarily recognize), is called the absolute threshold. However, the required amount of lighting on the apple for identification is different for everyone, and therefore what may be subliminal to one person may not be subliminal to another. It is generally accepted that a perception is subliminal if a great majority of the audience can not perceive it consciously. So what is perception? Perception is the brain's reception of incoming stimuli. Dr. Key said perception is total and instantaneous, but only 1/1000th of this is consciously recognized and processed. The rest is either stored in subconscious memory or dumped as irrelevant information. Although we do not fully understand how the brain perceives the world, advertisers have no interest in the motor and gears of the brain. It only cares that the brain is influenced the most by visual stimulation and there are certain ways to stimulate the brain without its conscious awareness. Dixon provides a good definition of subliminal perception, which he words as "subliminal reception."

1) The subject responds without awareness to stimulus.

2) Subject knows he is being stimulated, but doesn't know what it is.

For the rest of the paper, I will use the above definition for subliminal perception. Subliminal messages will therefore be the transmission of subliminal content using methods which the brain subconsciously perceives but is not consciously aware.

Experimental Confirmation Since the 19th century researchers have been performing psychological tests to confirm the existence of subliminal perception. N. F. Dixon has compiled over 500 studies on this topic and concluded in his book that subliminal perceptions exists beyond any reasonable doubt. He said, "It would seem that reports of percepts may be influenced by stimulation which the percipient is not aware. Certainly, it can be claimed that the having of a conscious percept does not exclude the possibility of subliminal effects." His book is held in such esteem one advertiser quoted "Dixon's book is basic reading for our creative department. We think of it as an operational bible." Ironically, Dixon never guessed his work would be used for commercial exploitation.

Dr. Hal C. Becker has patented a black box from 1962 to 1966 to pipe audio subliminal messages on top of another audio source. He has used this black box experimentally in stores to reduce theft and on weight reduction programs. In the case of the store, which a message such as "Don't steal" was superimposed into background music, theft in the store dropped 37%. However, he has urged caution in the use of such device and keep an eye on "other uses." Since his device is in patent, any company can look up the design and build a similar device to influence the population. Who knows, they may already by using it at every TV broadcasting station.

In 1983, an average class of Tucson eighth graders have taken a self esteem test on processed paper with subliminal messages on it. Students who have taken the test on paper printed with the subliminal message of "YOU ARE LOVED" have scored 15% higher than the students who have taken test on plain paper. The same test given to underachievers have produced even more remarkable results-the students scored 34.7% higher on processed paper. Dana Osman, president of Osman-Kord, Ltd., the company who printed the paper, claims that subliminal messages only work to influence minor decisions, and they are the most powerful when reinforcing an already made decision.

Researchers have designed tests to quantitatively measure the physiological responses of the body while subjected to subliminal stimuli. The researchers connect sensitive instruments to the subject while they are asked to watch a blank screen periodically superimposed with emotional subliminal stimuli. Tachistoscope projectors, which can flash words or images onto the screen with a duration of several milliseconds, are used to display the stimuli. Although the subject reports to having no awareness of the stimuli, researchers found they can alter the brain's alpha and theta waves, detected using an electroencephalograph (EEG). Similarly, they can detect subtle variations in heart rate using EKG's and higher electrical potentials on the skin using GSR's.

It is clear that humans can be affected by subliminal stimuli without their conscious awareness. The understanding of the our brain is too limited to understand how or why this works. However, the advertisers don't care about the inner workings of the brain. They only care that the population can be influenced and they have the resources to do the influencing.

Physiological Feasibility While there are centuries of experimental proof to back the existence of subliminal perception, the argument could be made much stronger if there exists scientific theories of human physiology to support the case. Unfortunately, our medical research has only begun to tap into the inner workings of the human brain. There are some theories which could provide support. From an evolutionary standpoint, our brains have not always had the same level of consciousness as we do now. It can be theorized from animals living today that their consciousness is controlled more from automatic responses and unconsciousness behavior. Dixon contends that when our brain has evolved from unconscious processing to conscious awareness, the brain has developed control mechanisms to filter most of the sensory input. To fully utilize the limited consciousness, and to protect the brain from sensory overload, only a fraction of the sensory input is channeled into the conscious mind. The rest is processed by our unconscious mind. Dixon writes:

It is contended that the principles of physiological summation, inhibition, and facilitation, the notion of interactions between specific and non-specific effects, and the existence of centrifugal-centripetal "gating" loops within the central nervous system, provide all that is necessary for a viable theory, without recourse to any concept that is anthropomorphic or supernatural.

In other words there is physiological basis for the possibility of subliminal perception, but the research is not thorough enough to prove its existence.

Arguments Against As with every theory, there are people who argue against subliminal perception. Some are intellectuals, but curiously, the loudest and strongest voices come from the advertisers. The most often used argument against this phenomenon is that it is "inherently unlikely, anthropomorphic, unparsimonious, physiologically inexplicable, and based upon shaky methodology." There are many plausible reasons why people vehemently deny the existence this phenomenon. According to Dixon, people instinctually fear what they do not know. We live in a country where personal freedom is one of the founding principles of this democratic society. To admit to an unconsciousness is to admit to the fact that there are areas of our brain that we can not control, but others can without our knowledge. The resistance is explicated.

Human Psychology Before one can understand the subliminal techniques advertisers use to influence the audience, one must understand the vulnerabilities in humans they tap into. The human being is a complex creature. The same complexity that gives us the ability to manipulate objects also makes us vulnerable to manipulation. Once the advertisers find these vulnerabilities (and they have done extensive research), there is little the public can do defend themselves against the onslaught.

Consciousness It is generally accepted that we possess various levels of consciousness. For example, the state of consciousness while we dream is different from the state when we are awake. Packard has distinguished the consciousness into three levels.

Conscious-rational level, where people know what is going on, and are able to tell why. The second and lower level is called, variously, preconscious and subconscious but involves that area where a person may know in a vague way what is going on within his own feelings, sensations, and attitudes but would not be willing to tell why. This is the level of prejudices, assumptions, fears, emotional promptings and so on. Finally, the third level is where we not only are not aware of our true attitudes and feelings but would not discuss them if we could.

Advertisers use subliminal techniques to influence the second and third level of consciousness. They target the consumer's fears and desires, manipulating them in ways never thought possible. On the other hand, advertisers present to the consumer on the conscious level a safe, neutral, naturally appealing ad to pacify the consumer's resistance to subliminal advertising. While glancing through an ad, the average consumer block-reads paragraphs and barely notices an ad that they have seem many times. This is prime time in subliminal reception because the conscious mind is uninterested in the potentially offensive subliminal material. Key writes:

To be effective, propaganda must constantly short circuit all thought and decisions. It must operate on the individual at the level of the unconsciousness. Critical judgment disappears altogether.

Perception As defined earlier, perception is the brain's reception of incoming stimuli. Some of this perception is conscious, while most of it is unconscious. Key has said our primary sensory input is visual perception. There are over 130 million receptor rods and cones packed in less than one square inch of optic nerves in our retina. Key has said that the eyes do not edit perception and the retina transmits everything to the brain's visual cortex for processing. However, Meyers has claimed that "at the entry level, the retina's neural layers encode and analyze the sensory information before routing it to the cortex." Whichever the case, advertisers had done extensive study on how our brains perceives input and has found that "most print advertising is designed for perceptual exposure time of less than one second." In other words, they are designed for the subconscious mind to absorb completely instantaneously while the conscious mind barely catches the headline. Not everyone perceives an image the same, however. Different perceptions would ultimately affect each person's level of subliminal receptivity. For example, "during a hypnotic trance, many subjects read quite fluently textual material presented to them upside down and even in mirror image-an impossible task for most people while awake." Key later concludes "it appears that individuals trained in linear reasoning, cognitively or quantitatively oriented, have higher [perception] thresholds and also appear more susceptible to substimuli." Advertisers take advantage of the fact that our society and its individual is sexually repressed in order to display sexually oriented subliminal messages. This also partially explains why male genitalia is directed toward males in advertisements, and female genitalia toward females. Men would be more reserved in observing male genitalia while they would readily consciously perceive embedded female breasts. After the image is discovered on the Coke can (see Heaving Breasts), the viewer subsequently notices it every time he or she sees the can. Further, the viewer is usually repulsed by the image. This asserts Key's claim that "artists do not hide anything, viewers do."

Perceptual Defenses The mechanism that blocks subliminal stimuli from our conscious awareness is part of the brain's perceptual defense system. According to Key, this defense mechanism operates automatically and invisibly. It is a double edged sword. It prevents perceptual (sensory) overload, suppresses anxiety, erases bad memories, prevents disturbing conscious memory associations, and basically keeps you sane. Although it blocks these events from your consciousness, it redirects them to your unconscious mind and these events still influences your behavior. Key says the effects of perceptual defense mechanisms at work include repression, isolation, regression, fantasy formation, sublimation, denial, projection, and introjection. He writes, "To avoid anxiety, overload, we construct perceptual defense mechanism to either limit or distort our perception of reality." Repression seems to be the central perceptual defense mechanism. R. D. Lang gives the definition of repression is when "we forget something, then we forget we have forgotten." Dixon writes, "[The] findings from the intensive study of perceptual defence [sic]… put the validity of subliminal perception beyond any reasonable doubt." Advertisers take advantage of our defense mechanisms to inject subliminal messages into our subconscious mind. By using cultural taboos, our defense mechanisms block sexually explicit images from our conscious mind but our unconscious mind still perceives the image. We associate the message with the product and when we see this product on the shelf at a later date, are subconscious mind would follow the purchasing command and consequently influencing our conscious mind to buy the product. In the case of repression, the subliminal command hides away in unconscious memory until an event, like the sight of the product on the shelf, triggers it.

Memory Memory, the mental capacity or faculty of retaining or recalling facts, events, impressions, or previous experiences, is one of the defining elements in being human. Without it, we would be in perpetual infancy, and probably would be living in a class lower than most mammals. However, we do possess this ability to use as a tool and to be manipulated without our awareness. Meyers defines memory recall as "the ability to retrieve information not in conscious awareness." Retrieval cues, such as pneumonic devices, facilitate the recall of information. Since we can perceive subliminal information, we must also have the ability to subconsciously store this information in memory. Like conscious perception to subconscious perception, conscious memory is very limited, while subconscious memory has an enormous capacity but lacks the ability to intellectually synthesize and interpret information. The more emotionalized the data, for example sex and death, the more likely it is to be retained in subconscious memory. Dr. Wilder Renfield, a Montreal neurosurgeon, first empirically determined the existence of a subconscious memory mechanism during a brain surgery more than 40 years ago. He also theorized the brain retains every perception it receives. Poetzl supported this theory by performing dream experiments and demonstrated that subliminal messages could trigger conscious behavior from hours do months after exposure. From a business standpoint, this could be very useful in influencing consumers to buy their products. The sexually loaded subliminal message works its way into the buyers' subconscious memory and days later when the buyer goes into a store, the retrieval cues activate the command to influence the buyer. This is why the most influential ads are the ones you don't remember consciously. Key states:

Ads that were recalled consciously was a loser. An advertisement is to motivate a purchase decision-days, weeks, or even months after it has been perceived for even an instant. The job of an ad is to sell-not to be recalled.

Knowing this, advertisers will employ every technique in the book to tempt your drives and desires while provoking your fears.

Drives and Fears We live in a complex society where our safety and well-being is mostly protected. Most of us feel safe driving down to the local supermarket and back, knowing that we will not be assaulted on the way and that our kids and home is safe from harm. What if our society is taken away, or we are taken away from society. If a group of us is dropped on a remote island, it is likely that some of us will survive and procreate. Coded into our genetic structure are instincts that will assure the continuation of mankind if we are faced with such a situation. Drives such as thirst, hunger, and sex, will propel us to take whatever actions necessary to survive. Meyers has said, "Sexual motivation is nature's clever way of making people procreate, thus enabling our specie's survival. The pleasure of sex is our genes' way of preserving and spreading themselves." Fear of death, pain, and suffering will warn us from dangerous situations. Since we live in a sheltered society, our primal drives and fears have been altered to fit other forms. These diametrical extremes-the beginning and the end, have been molded into desire for attention, reassurance, acceptance, immortality, and the fear of financial hardship, sexual insecurity, and loss of power. Few of us worry about when our next meal is, and whether we will be living tomorrow. If we are ever thirsty, we approach the nearest water fountain or the vending machine. Despite the fact that our drives and fears are subdued and domesticated, they still exist within us. Advertisers take advantage of this to tempt our deepest drives and scare our morbid fears. Dixon has said that since drives exist at such a fundamental level within us, it is prime target for subliminal stimuli.

In linking the more psychopathological aspects of subjective affective states, with their relevance to drive schema, subliminal stimuli seem more effective and supraliminal stimuli, presumably because they bypass the "censoring" and restrictive role of consciousness.

There are experiments supporting the greater influence of subliminal stimuli on drives. Key says that "once primed by drive excitation, an individual is more susceptible to substimuli." For example, Gorden and Spence, in 1966, has shown that hungry subjects are more subjective to subliminal stimulation. To prime our sexual drives, advertisers will frequently embed the word "SEX" into their ads .

Although our drive for physical sustenance has been greatly alleviated, our drive for sexual satisfaction is at its peak. Therefore, sex is the common denominator for all advertisements. Carl Moog claims that "no other type of psychological imagery hits people close to where they live." Remember, we are in a sexually repressed society. Sex appeals to both the conscious and subconscious mind by attracting attention and influencing their behavior through drive control. Advertisers not only projects how their product enhances the sexual experience, but simply gives permission to the public for sexual promiscuity. Moog writes:

Some of the most pervasive, sexual imagery in advertising is more symbolic than blatant, although the connotations are far from subtle. The imagery sends a message to the unconscious, granting permission to fulfill sexual wishes and points the way to an attractor that can facilitate the encounter.

Advertiser's Arsenal Armed with limitless resources, advertisers spend millions of dollars on researching exactly how to make you buy their product. Knowing that you have crave sex and fear death, Merit would want to know how their cigarettes appeal to you. Schlitz Brewing Company spends 10 million dollars annually to research how you drink beer. The consumer really doesn't know what they want to buy in the mass market. Since mass production has taken over, the difference in quality and effectiveness between one product and another of a similar price is nonexistent. Some advertisers still boast the quality of their products, but most have turned to more effective means of advertising-subliminal advertising. In order to do this, they must do some background research. After they find your vulnerabilities, they target specific these areas and fire their shots of subliminal messages.

Motivational Research Advertisers use motivational analysis or research (MR) to find the hidden needs of the consumer. Old techniques such is polls did not provide the depth and accuracy of knowledge advertisers required to create ads. This research method gained momentum in the late 40's and early 50's. Louis Cheskin, director of the Color Research Institute of America, and Ernest Dichter, president of the Institute for Motivational Research, Inc., claim to be the founding fathers of MR. Dichter says that the successful ad agency "manipulates human motivations and desires and develops a need for goods with which the public has at one time been unfamiliar-perhaps even undesirous of purchasing." Psychology not only holds promise for understanding people by "ultimately controlling their behavior." One of the research techniques advertisers used is depth interviews, either in individuals or groups. The researcher would gather a group of people and discuss a topic, like in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. The psychologist would lead and direct the discussion so people would reveal their fears and desires. For example, an alcoholic might say something about having nightmares after trying to stop drinking. The researcher would then ask exactly what the alcoholic was dreaming about, and then use his dreams as subliminal images on advertisements. Devious indeed. Another method researchers use is the Rorschach Ink-blot test, developed by Hermann Rorschach. The subjects are asked to stare into formless ink blots and describe what they see. Supposedly, the subjects will reveal their hidden needs by seeing what they want to see. Some more commonly used techniques are Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), hypnosis, cartoon bubble filling, and Szondi test. The TAT is similar to the ink blot test, except real images and potential advertisements are used. Researchers might hypnotize a subject and ask him to tell secrets he would never openly reveal. In the cartoon test, the subject is shown an emotional cartoon with the dialogue bubbles blank, and the subject is asked to fill it in. Finally, the in Szondi test, researchers begin with the assumption that everyone is a little crazy. They show their subjects pictures of people and ask them who they would most likely to sit next to and least likely to sit next to. Each picture, however, shows someone who has a psychiatric disorder: paranoid, depressed, etc. In all of these tests, the subject is asked to project himself. After the advertisers find what appeals most to the consumer, they send the ideas to their graphic design artists to include it subliminal in their ads.

Subliminal Strategies Graphic design artists have a wealth of tools at their hands to expertly embed subliminal messages into their pictures. At the dawn of subliminal advertising, graphic artists painted on photographs. That was very difficult to do without ruining the picture. Later, with bigger budgets and better equipment, graphic artists used airbrushes to craft their design onto billboards and then take a picture of it. Now, everything is done digitally on the computer with perfection. Key has said there are six general subliminal strategies: figure-ground reversals, embedding, double entendre, low-intensity light and low-volume sound, tachistoscopic displays, lighting and background sound. Graphic artists can take advantage of multiple techniques to produce the desired effects.

To protect the brain from sensory overload, our perceptual defense mechanism distinguishes every perception into figure (foreground, subject) and ground (background, environment). We consciously notice the figure, while the ground floats around it unless something there brings it to the foreground. Perceptual psychologist Dr. E. Rubin created his famous Rubin's Profiles that can be found in almost every psychology text book today. His profiles, the faces and vases, old women and young women, duck and rabbit, are syncretistic (two sided) illusions. Noticing one set of features, you see one thing, while noticing another set of features, you see something else. Advertisers take advantage of this to paint subliminal messages into the picture's background. They are usually cultural taboos, making it even harder for the audience to perceive it.

Microsoft uses syncretistic illusions in the Windows 95 startup splash screen. It's the perfect place to put subliminal messages-most of us ignore it. Furthermore, if we ever stared into it, we are constantly distracted by the scrolling bar on the bottom of the screen. The intended audience are network administrators, corporate advisors, and home users in the power of buying this software-middle age men in their late forties. The slogan for Windows 95 is "Where do you want to go today?" It implies freedom, power, and control. Taken all this into account, you will find a hippie rocker (Woodstock), black stallion, and an eagle painted in the sky. The most prominent image is of course sex, displayed as the classic male dominant side profile of him kissing the female below. No wonder Windows 95 is so popular among zombies.

Embedding is the processing of hiding one image in the form of another. This is a difficulty process but if successful, very influential. Key writes, "Embeds enhance perceptual experience of the picture… Emotionalized, repressed information remains in the memory system for long periods, perhaps for a lifetime." Genitalia is one of the most often used images for embedding. The female torso in the Diet Coke can described earlier is an example of embedding. For alcohol or soft drink ads, advertisers like to depict their drink in either the bottle or a glass, half filled ice cubes and half with the drink, with condensation drops oozing down the sides of the glass. Graphic artists has gotten a lot of expertise at embedding objects in these pictures. The advertisers' favorite image to put in here are skulls and screaming contorted faces. Key has analyzed such an ad and found that these are the nightmares alcoholics have in their sleep. Using a similar technique, I also found a dozen or so screaming faces, skulls, and animal faces in a Seagram's Extra Dry Gin ad. If I only found one face in one ad, it could have come from my imagination. The multitude of similar images in several alcohol ads shows that advertisers must have intentionally put it in.

Many images, phrases, and slogans have hidden double meanings behind them. This is called double entendre. Symbolism can also go into this category. Often, their hidden meanings have sexual connotations. For example Microsoft's "Where do you want to go today?" and American Express' "Do more," when taken out of context, could have sexual implications. Key writes:

Double meanings appear to enrich significance in virtually any symbolic stimuli. Unconsciously perceived information of this taboo nature ensures a deep, meaningful emotional response, and continued memory.

Another example of advertiser's exploitation of double entendre is Crown Royal's holiday whiskey ad. The whiskey bottle is completely wrapped in a purple bag, with a card that says "To: Dad" on it. At the bottom of the page, big bold letters say "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Below this in smaller letters there is the phrase, "Those who appreciate quality enjoy it responsibly." The double meaning behind this ad is the call for Dad to have sex. During the holidays, Dad will open the bag (condom) uncovering his masculinity and consequently enjoys sex even more.

There is a plethora of other symbolic imagery that advertisers take advantage of. Advertisers often use lemon and oranges to portray fertility and women. Ties are a common phallic symbol. Through these symbolic images, can present a seemingly harmless ad while entrenching your subconscious mind with deeper meanings. Moog writes about symbolic imagery:

Symbolic communications bypass the layers of logic and cultural appropriateness and head straight for the unconscious, which is then free to find an equivalence between what is symbolized, in this case sexual arousal…

Another technique advertisers is low-intensity light and its auditory equivalent low-volume sound. Graphic artists paint faint subliminal images below the conscious threshold of perception but above the unconscious perception threshold. By far the most commonly embedded image is the word SEX. Key have said that "advertisers have indiscriminately sexualized virtually everything they publish or broadcast with subliminal SEXes." Often, graphic artists mosaic SEXes onto textured surfaces or in edges, shadows, and highlights. Just pick up any major magazine, relax, and stare into it for a couple of minutes. You will soon find these SEXes popping out at you. Other commonly used words are FUCK, DIE, and KILL, among other emotionally loaded four letter words. Such subliminal instructions are dangerous indeed. Dixon writes, "It may be impossible to resist instructions which are not consciously experienced."

The final two techniques, tachistoscopic display and lighting and background sound, are used in film and video advertisers. As mentioned earlier, tachistoscopic displays flash images onto the screen in fractions of a second not perceivable by the conscious mind. Another method tachistoscopic displays can use is superimposing the image onto existing image just below the conscious perception level, as Dr. Becker has done. Lighting and background sound adjust the mood of the scenery. In most cases, it reinforces the conscious perception.

Using these research and subliminal techniques, advertisers have great control on the consumer. With motivational research, they have found eight hidden needs in the human psyche: emotional security, reassurance of worth, ego-gratification, creative outlets, love objects, sense of power, sense of roots, and immortality. Also, advertisers found ten areas of behavior they can subliminal influence: conscious perception, emotional response, drive-related behaviors, adaptation levels, verbal formulations, memory, perceptual defenses, dreams, psychopathology, and purchasing and consumption behavior. Anyone has the potential to influence all ten behaviors, but advertisers of course are concerned with purchasing and consumption behaviors. With their billion dollar budgets, advertisers can use this knowledge to break down any consumer barriers.

Legal Issues It is obvious that by tapping into the consumer's unconscious mind without their knowledge, the advertisers are engaging in deceptive practices. It is also an invasion of privacy. But, is this legal? The answer is no. There are numerous legislation that prohibit advertisers from using subliminal messages in their ads. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) Act Sec 5 - "prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in interstate commerce." They also claim they "have primary responsibility for regulation of advertising in this country." However, Key writes that "there appears to be nothing here that would provoke the FTC into a charge of deceptive advertising." The TV Code of the National Association of Broadcasters (IV, 14) states: "Any technique whereby an attempt is made to convey information to the viewer by transmitting messages below the threshold of normal awareness is not permitted." Unfortunately, these laws are vaguely stated yet greatly limited. The most potentially effective regulation is made by the U.S. Treasury Department, Division of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). It states:

Subliminals are inherently deceptive because the consumer does not perceive them at a normal level of awareness, and thus is given no choice whether to accept or reject the message, as is the case with normal advertising. ATF holds that this type of advertising technique is false and deceptive, and is prohibited by law.

The problem in this legal fight is not legislation, unfortunately. It is the proof. Because of its nature, subliminal messages are nearly impossible to prove. How do you prove to the judge there is a naked women in the Diet Coke can? How do you prove to the jury there are screaming faces hidden ice cubes? In this legal system, you can't. The evidence would be considered circumstantial. Advertisers would of course deny any such activity and claim that if you stare into anything long enough, you will find it. The most substantial evidence is they spending billions annually on research and subliminal advertising. Therefore, it must work?!? Another crutch against us is that no one, including the advertisers, know how the brain works. They just know that it does. Until we can scientifically prove subliminal perception, this quest may be in vain. Key writes: "The rules prohibiting repressed media content have been ignored. None of the regulations have ever been enforced." It seems like we are on losing grounds in this legal battle.

Conclusions Advertisers have taken a firm hold on our daily lives. Half of their dominating influence can be attributed to their use of subliminal advertising. They take advantage of the vulnerabilities in our subconscious minds. Using the latest computer technology, they have unparalleled resources to manipulate each image to target a specific weakness in us. Key claims that "subliminal indoctrination may prove more dangerous than nuclear weapons. [Our] present odds appear to favor total devastation." Also, he writes that "once the group or collective unconscious is programmed into what has been called culture, virtually any bill of good scan be sold at conscious levels." Although the first statement is rather bleak and melodramatic, his second point is a good one. Congressmen or private companies can use subliminal messages on TV shows to sway votes one way or the other. The military can muffle outcries against war. The potential for control of the American people is enormous. What can you do to protect yourself? Knowledge. Knowledge that advertisers are trying to influence and control you, and that you can fight back. The next time you make a purchasing decision, ask yourself, "Why am I choosing this product?" Buy a product because of its taste, its quality, and its price. Never buy a product because its packaging looks good or because it is a name brand. Remember, it is the major companies that have the resources to do subliminal advertising. Also, harass your congressmen to make and enforce laws against subliminal broadcasting and printing. Write letters of complaint and gather signatures to send to the advertiser. Eventually, it will work. Despite all this, it really is entertaining trying to see through the advertisements and find subliminal messages in them. It's kind of like beating them at their own game. The next time you go out for dinner, stare into the restaurant's placements or a luscious steamy dinner on the menu. See what you can find.

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