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.

A La:

By Zak with No comments

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Primal Forces that Drive Social Networks

Social Networks are revolutionizing how we view our world. People are connecting, businesses are being created or transformed, and the world seems like a smaller place. As with any transformation on a grand scale, a plethora of consultants, gurus, blogs, and how-to books have risen to meet the demand for information about the social revolution.

However, it is very rare to hear anything about the underlying forces that actually drive the social network phenomenon.

It’s a shame because the story is a great one that has implications, not only for social media, but for fields as diverse as counter-terrorism, ecology, economics, organizational theory and cancer research. Network Theory has fundamentally changed our understanding about how the world works since its inception a decade ago. Most of all, by understanding how networks form and grow, we can build better ones.

Fireflies and the President of the United States

Our story begins in 1996 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where an adventurous rock climber and former Australian Navy Officer named, Duncan Watts, was thinking about how crickets, frogs, fireflies, and pacemaker cells all seem to be able to synchronize their behavior within large groups.

His mind must have began to wander because he suddenly remembered that his father once told him that everybody is just six relationships away from the President of the United States. The concept had existed in literature early in the 20th century and was documented in Stanley Milgram’s famous “Small World Experiment”.

In a flash of inspiration he went to his PhD thesis advisor, Steven Strogatz, and told him that he wanted to, yet again, change his thesis topic. Watts had a hunch that both phenomena might be related. Strogatz, somewhat used to giving his brilliant student leeway, consented.

The Strength of Weak Ties

As he began his research, Watts came across a highly cited paper written by Mark Granovetter called “The Strength of Weak Ties” about how people find jobs. He found that most people don’t locate employment through their friends, but through friends of friends.

Granovetter dubbed these relationships “weak ties” (after the attraction between water molecules that give the liquid many of its properties). Granovetter surmised that it is through weak ties that information is largely distributed. While we can maintain relationships with relatively few people, the people they know greatly increase our access to facts, knowledge and wisdom.

We have friends from work, school, our neighborhood, etc. While our ties may be strong ties to us, they are weak ties to our friends from separate clusters. For instance, the felon in our neighborhood can be connected to the law professor at our university in only two steps!

Spacemen vs. Cavemen

Watts also began thinking about his youthful love of science fiction and two Isaac Asimov novels in particular; one about spacemen and another about cavemen. The spacemen communicated remotely so that the people they knew didn’t know each other, while the cavemen lived in isolated groups and knew everybody their friends knew. He decided to build a mathematical model that would describe both situations and every possibility in between.

In addition to the “degrees of separation” metric (the average number of links it takes to get from one network member to another), Watts also created a “cluster coefficient,” in effect how tightly clustered communities are within the network.

A good analogy is a school lunchroom. How many people who have close relationships would be calculated by the cluster coefficient while how many introductions one would need, on average, to get to any particular person, would be the degrees of separation (or more technically, path length). This type of calculation has been second nature for poor note-takers and class-cutters alike for ages.

Armed with mathematical representations for both his “spacemen and his “cavemen” he could experiment with different types of networks.

Small World Networks

What he found was startling. In his model, as communities connect to each other, the social distance between people increases – up to a point – and then immediately comes crashing down. It turns out that it takes just a little bit of mixing for the social distance to decrease by an enormous amount, but a lot of mixing to kill communities. Although surprising, the pattern was familiar. Similar “instantaneous phase transitions” have been long known in Physics.

Moreover, he found that in almost all cases, the same result appeared, it was only a matter of time for a network under fairly normal conditions to reach the optimal state. Globally connected networks with strong local cohesion are not only possible, they are the equilibrium case – you just needed a relatively small number of Granovetter’s “weak ties” mixed in to make the whole thing work.

He called the result a “Small World Network” after Milgram’s famous experiment.

Hey! Networks Grow, Don’t They?

Watts published a paper on his findings with Strogatz and it became an immediate success, widely read and cited throughout the scientific community. At Notre Dame University, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi and his student, RĂ©ka Albert, noticed an oversight – networks grow over time and large communities within networks drive the growth. They quickly published their own paper.

What they found was that networks follow a very specific mathematical rule called a “power law” that described well known phenomena such as the “80/20 rule” and Chris Andersen’s now famous long tail. Their findings suggested that even very large networks were driven by relatively few “hubs” around which everything else was organized.

The two teams continued to trade papers back and forth and in a very short time Network Theory had arrived!

Implications of Network Theory for Social Media

Through understanding the forces that drive social networks, we can take some practical steps to improve Social Media performance.

Communities are primary: A network is only as strong as the communities that it contains. A big mistake that many Social Media efforts make is to pursue broad coverage early on. Building enthusiastic, devoted communities requires a local approach (either geographically or in social space). Those local communities have “weak ties” to other communities in other places, even faraway places. So you really can think globally by acting locally.

People want to connect: Connections between communities naturally grow over time for the same reasons that information wants to be free and dictatorships are expensive to maintain. Any opportunity to implement open architecture (while maintaining security protocols for the site core) should be seized upon. Walling off a social network is choosing the path to obscurity (although hardly the one less traveled).

Large clusters drive the network: A small number of extremely active members drive network growth. Mostly, they are driven by reputation and attention so it is crucial to give users every opportunity to be recognized by their peers.

Social Media isn’t successful… until it is: A network doesn’t grow in a linear fashion and it doesn’t grow in just one direction, but two: outward and inward. Watts described a network maturing as an “instantaneous phase transition” similar to a crystal forming. The process moves relatively slowly and then, suddenly, a new global state is achieved. Once a “Small World Network” has formed, the growth becomes exponential.

Social Networks on the web can be extremely powerful. Once you understand the forces that drive them, you can make their horsepower work with you and not against you.

Note: For those of you who are interested in learning more, Watts and Barabasi have both published highly readable and informative accounts of their Network Theory adventure and the friendly rivalry. It’s a lot of fun to read both sides and learn both about their triumphs and their frustration when the other one uncovered something which seemed fairly obvious in retrospect. Besides being brilliant both write well and in friendly and engaging styles. In fact, the books are much more accessible than journalist accounts of the same events.

The titles are “Six Degrees” (Watts) and “Linked” (Barabasi). Steven Strogatz has also published a great book called “Sync” that covers pre-cursor work to Network Theory. All are refreshing counterpoints to “guru books” and offer true insight and wisdom.

a la

By Zak with No comments

Have your Music Reviewed

Send us your music, we will take the best of the best and appraise it, review it, then display it, for all of our visitors to see. All types of music are accepted.

It is a lot of work to find the Holy Grails of marketing articles, so give us some time to review your music.


By Zak with No comments

Friday, February 4, 2011

Relationships are the New Distribution

Social Media superhero Chris Brogan recently wrote a post on the basics – the 4 P’s of marketing (product, price, place, and promotion) and talked about how many people don’t spend enough time on their Product, and try to make up for it in Promotion. If that doesn’t work they try competing on Price. But rarely is much time spent thinking about Place.
This got me thinking about how music is marketed, and how absolutely right he is. A lot of indie musicians tend to spend the majority of their time on Product and Promotion, with Price usually being the standard $0.99 per track. The common mistake is in thinking that Place, which is your distribution, is taken care of once you’ve gotten your music up on iTunes or Bandcamp.
I think we need to start thinking of distribution as more than just where people download or buy your music from, and maybe shuffle a few P’s around in the process.
In the digital world that most of us are now living, your distribution is actually made up of the quality of your relationships. Every fan, blogger, DJ, promoter, or any other variety of human that you come into contact with is a potential distribution point for your music. The more they like you and your music, the likelier they are to talk about and spread it on a regular basis. So what can you do to get ahead? It’s actually kind of obvious…

Build Your Own Deal

Your distribution is only as strong as the relationships you build around your music, so focus on strategically identifying and building relationships with people who’s audiences you most want to expose to your tunes.
Engage with your fans and learn what kind of content you can create around your music that really resonates with them and helps them connect with you on a deeper level. The more engaged and entertained your fans are, the more passionate they are going to be about sharing your music with their friends.
Spend some time reading the blogs that are most enthusiastic about your music, and the blogs you most want to be featured on. Is there anything you can do to help them? Offer to write some guest posts or create some exclusive content for them. Do an interview with a band they cover, and offer it as an exclusive. Stop pitching blogs on covering your music and start looking for ways to help them provide cool content to their readers.
Form partnerships and collaborate on new projects with other bands, businesses, sports teams, charities, etc. Make contact and build relationships with people and organizations you’re interested in and figure out how you can help each other out.

Be Selective

Seth Godin made a great point in a recent post: Ubiquitous distribution is overrated.
You don’t need to be everywhere, and you can’t be. Focus on building up the distribution points that will get your music and other content to the right people, not the most people. Always be growing your fanbase, but keep it exclusive enough that your most loyal fans don’t feel alienated because you put more effort into marketing to new fans than keeping them engaged and happy.
As you tend to the distribution points you build and they grow stronger, you’ll see the spread of your music slowly increase. New distribution points will develop on their own, and you’ll need to make sure that you’re always listening and ready to engage with them when they do.
This is the sort of stuff that a lot of people tend to think of as Promotion. But if you start looking at it as developing a distribution network for your music, I think it makes a whole lot more sense in the long term. It can also serve to free up all the money you’ve been wasting on advertising and promotion, and instead use it to create amazing content

What Do You Think?

Does it make sense to view your relationships with fans, other bands, bloggers, and sponsors as distribution points? Do you think these relationships deserve more attention? What are the challenges a band faces in taking this type of approach to music marketing?

A la

By Zak with No comments

The Importance of Context in Music Discovery

Within the ongoing discussions regarding new music business models that are taking place across the blogosphere, there is a lot of talk about providing ‘context’ to fans, and using that to monetize your work rather than relying on the sales of your music alone. However context isn’t only important to provide to your current fans, it plays a crucial role in hooking new ones. So what exactly is context and how can we make sure we’re providing enough of it to gain the attention of potential fans?
Context : the surroundings, circumstances, environment, background or settings which determine, specify, or clarify the meaning of an event associated with the consumption of music.

Discovery Context

First of all, it’s important to recognize how important context is in hooking new fans. Sure, the music itself is the most important ingredient when it comes to potential fans discovering you, but if they haven’t been primed with contextual information, your music might not ‘click’ with them. We’ve all been introduced to a new band and dismissed them as uninteresting only to revisit their music again later equipped with new information and suddenly love them. It’s happened to me many times anyway.
Knowing that more fans are likely to be moved farther along in the absorption process if they hear your music in the right context, giving you a better chance of converting them into true fans, it makes sense to find effective ways of providing that context.

Step One – Identify Discovery Channels

The first thing you need to do is figure out how people are learning about your music. Use tools like Google Alerts, Google Analytics, and Twitter to find out where traffic is coming from and who is talking about you. Look at your YouTube insights to see who is linking to your videos. Use this information to poke around and determine the paths people take online to end up at your pages.
You might find that there is a large number of people finding you via a blog post somebody made at a website you’ve never heard of. Or maybe a video of yours is making the rounds on Facebook. You could be getting all kinds of traffic from a similar bands Wikipedia entry. There is no limit to the number of different paths people can take to discovering your music, so find out which channels are driving the most traffic.

Step Two – Plant Context Rich Content

Once you have a good handle on how people are finding you, start planting content along the paths that people are taking to find you that will give them a better understanding of who you are and what you’re all about. The type of content you should use to accomplish this depends on what is generating the interest in the first place. Here are a few ideas:
Video EPK
Interesting and relevant press items / interviews
Personal message from the artist
Video of artist interacting with fans/other artists/his mother
Whatever content you decide to create and plant for this purpose, make sure your fans are able to take it with them and embed it in their own sites, blogs, message boards, etc. If you manage to make the right content, your fans will use it on your behalf to hook new fans for you. Make it easy for your fans to give their friends context and you’ll see a spike in new fans.
Here’s a simple rule to follow: Always Be Publishing. (Mitch Joel tweeted this the other day and it stuck with me, so I stole it.) Whether it’s new music, blog or twitter posts, pictures, or anything else – always be publishing. Furthermore, if the content you are publishing doesn’t accomplish at least one of the following goals, it’s not worth publishing:
Showcase your talents
Provide context
Engage fans
Build relationships

Step Three – Track Your Efforts

Pay attention to metrics such as traffic, streams, mailing list sign-ups, sales, comments, incoming links, blog chatter, etc. so that you have a solid grasp on how effective your current content and presentation is at converting strangers into interested listeners. When you make a change in order to increase conversions, watch carefully for changes in these metrics and make a decision on how to proceed based on your results.
You’ll learn a lot about your fans and what types of content engages them by simply paying attention. Many artists and music marketers expect that they simply need to do what everyone else is doing, and then wonder why they aren’t getting anywhere. Rather than creating generic content, listen to your fans and let them shape the type of content you produce to promote your music.


With the ridiculously huge and ever increasing number of choices competing for the attention of potential fans, it’s pretty obvious that artists and music marketers need to start doing more if they want to succeed. Your success in building and nurturing your tribe will be a direct reflection of your ability to provide valuable context to it’s potential and current fans. Context builds connection.
What are your thoughts? Use the comments to post examples of great contextual content that you’ve come across and let me know if this sparks any ideas.

A la

By Zak with No comments

Does your band have culture?

I know because I teach it that there is a lot of clutter on the Internet and in the world around us. Breaking through this clutter is awfully tough. The single greatest way to break through the clutter is to create a culture. What I mean by culture is a movement behind your music. This can come in many forms.
Seth Godin, the legendary marketing pro and author dedicated an entire book to discussing tribes and their impact on society. To him, and others like Kevin Kelly, building a tribe is nothing more than leading a group of people. In your music, you can be a leader, whether for a movement of political scale, humanitarianism or just for a certain scene that you partake in. The goal with the tribes is to create a culture and have a dedicated number of fans that are willing to do anything, pay anything or go anywhere to experience what you have to offer.
Story Tellers

(Greatful Dead concert)

The best stories of all time in the music business go back to amazing story telling. From the Greatful Dead fans telling stories of legendary shows to stories of seeing the Beatles for the first time on the Ed Sullivan Show, stories helped create a culture around those bands. Modern day stories may include 50 Cent and his shot 9 times into riches story or even (as lame as it is) the Britney comeback story. If you can create a story, one that will be retold and retold for the hands of time, you will have a culture that will grow as quickly and passionately as any advertising campaign.
Youth Movement

photo by Conor Keller |
Young people love joining cultures outside the norm. Most of these cultures are a result of music or art that populate locally, grow regionally and are eaten alive by companies and corporations all over the world. If you can connect with youth culture you have the ability to connect with movers and shakers that are responsible for over $200 million in recreational spending every year in the U.S. alone. The new youth generation, Gen-Y or the Millennials, are the largest generation in the world, and in some countries like Iran, make up 60% or more of the country’s population. Targeting them based on their wants and mental assessment can play a huge part in your growth and development as a band, or in the music industry.

How to Market to These Groups

Marketing your music to these groups can be tricky. There are many downfalls to doing it wrong. Creating a bad first impression is a hard thing to overcome especially in youth culture. Keys to developing a culture through your music can be created both organically and through brainstorming and great planning.

Organic Culture Creation

Live Shows - Playing out live and making an impression on your audience is the biggest way to spread your message and build a culture. Solillaquists of Sound from Orlando have toured the country and built a large independent following almost solely through live performance. Crowds leave the room talking about Divinci on the MPC or Swamberger’s passion in every lyric that comes out of his mouth. They never go through the motions and just play songs to fill a time slot. Think of your live show as a performance and create a culture around the songs and the people enjoying your songs.
Your Online Attention - I called this online attention because it boiled down to two attention spans. One is getting the attention of your fans online. This is no easy feat. The second part is after you have their attention, following up and talking to these fans so that a culture is created with you leading this culture. As a leader you need to share information (in this case it could be songs, lyrics, video, live appearances or some type of education) and you also need to communicate this information. Think of a CEO or a boss. While they have the big office and the big paycheck, if the information that leaves his office never gets relayed to his team, the company will fail. Same for your music. The Internet makes it very easy to close that communication gap and lead your tribe.

Planned Culture Creation

In this aspect, you would be spending marketing dollars towards getting fans involved in your culture. This can range from widgets that showcase your music and interactive media or media buys on influential sites that your fans visit frequently. The key with planning a culture is to take aspects that make your music special and see how they fit into the culture around your music. It can never be forced or it will not work. Talk to your fans, talk to your friends, producers or other artists and see how they view you and your music. This will help you in the planning stages.
So, does your music have culture?
What is your band’s story?
What do you want your fans to say about you?

A La

By Zak with No comments

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Twitter Usage for Bands: Steve Lawson Interview [Video]

The other day I came across this video interview with Steve Lawson (@) and Andrew Dubber (@) on the subject of Twitter usage for bands. Steve has some really insightful things to say about using Twitter, many of which I agree with. He helps attach words to my thoughts about Twitter, so Steve, if you’re reading this, thank you!

Steve Lawson from Andrew Dubber on Vimeo.

Andrew Dubber: “So do you think of Twitter as a marketing tool for musicians?”
Steve Lawson: “I think if you did, that’s limiting it massively. Yes, that is one of the effects in the same way that conversation is a marketing tool for musicians. Having friends is a marketing tool. If you’ve got two hundred friends, then you are going to sell more records than somebody that has twenty friends. But, if you see them as a market, then you are suddenly going to go from two hundred friends to three friends when they realize. So, the beauty of Twitter is that it is a communication model. It’s a way of removing the proximity aspect to everyday chat.”

A la Tight Mix Blog

By Zak with No comments

Color: What colors sell your product

This information is based on the principles of Laws of Attraction, Law of Allowing and Law of Deliberate Creation. And the Universal Laws of Energy (like attract likes) proven by Quantum Physics.

What colors attract people to you?

Visual presentation and appeal, whether in your marketing materials or what you wear, can turn on or turn off what people you attract. It does not matter if it's on paper matter, the Internet, like a web site, or in a presentation.

If you do any kind of speaking, writing, or design type of work, this article is for you.
I'm not just talking about visual color, I'm also talking to you about audio and writing or language color. Each affect our relationships -- friends, family, prospects, clients or customers.
It is a fact that companies with large budgets spend billions on color market research -- usually in product or packaging development. Solopreneurs pockets aren't as deep, thus, they need to use the results of the research of the deep pocket-ers. Colors tell someone if you are approachable. In the same way they will affect whether someone will continue clicking through your web site. Colors will determine if someone will start reading your article in a magazine or posted on your web site. Color also helps to keep people involved on your web site (it's not just about the content) and how long they stay. Colors also influences how people will respond and behave. A black background on your web site now represents s*x-type of web sites. It is important that if that isn't your focus that you don't use a black background.

Let's take a few minutes and play with this concept. The next time you go into a fast-food restaurant, look closely at the colors. Do they decorate with vivid reds and oranges because they encourage diners to eat and leave quickly like many of the fast food establishments. That is exactly the response they want.
Different cultures have different attitudes and preferences thus; they will have another color reaction. In China, "white" symbolizes death and in Brazil, it is the color purple. People from warm countries respond favorably to warm colors; people from colder climates prefer the cooler colors.
In America, green is associated with jealousy or money. Here are some color references for America.

Red......excitement, strength, sex, passion, speed, danger.
Blue.....(most popular) trust, reliability, belonging, coolness.
Yellow...warmth, sunshine, cheer, happiness.
Orange...playfulness, warmth, vibrant.
Green....nature, fresh, cool, growth, abundance.
Purple...royal, spirituality, dignity.
Pink.....soft, sweet, nurture, security.
White....pure, virginal, clean, youthful, mild.
Black....sophistication, elegant, seductive, mystery, sexual.
Gold.....prestige, expensive, elite.
Silver...prestige, cold, scientific.

This also means that color affect shopping habits. Red- orange, black and royal blue attracts impulse buyers. Pink, teal, light blue and navy attract smart budget Shopper. Pink, rose and sky blue attract conformists.
A great exercise to experience this -- visit large company web sites that have spent the funds on this type of research.
Try McDonalds ( -- bright red) or Wendy's ( -- brownish red). Jaguar ( -- black for sophistication, green cool, and silver for prestige). It matches perfectly with their market -- high income-ers with a view on sophisticated.
If you are a service professional, how might you put colors to use for you?
First, make sure you have the right target market. Young children materials contain large amounts of bright primary colors. These colors will attract the child yet the parents or grandparents open the wallet. This means that for the children you would use the primary colors and for the marketing material being read by the grand/parents you would use reds, blues, pinks and yellows for trust, reliability, security, and playful.
If you a web site and you choose the colors because they are your favorite, then you choose it could have chosen it for the wrong target market -- unless, of course, you are the only one or people just like you are the only ones you want buying. Pick your colors for your market. This is anything you want to attract in America.
Catherine Franz, is a syndicated columnist, author, radio talk show host on marketing, International speaker, and master business coach.

By Zak with No comments

4 Indispensable Tips On Viral Marketing That Cannot Be Ignored

4 Indispensable Tips On Viral Marketing That Cannot Be Ignored

If your goal is to promote your business, whether it is online or offline, you cannot do better than to rely on viral marketing. Viral marketing, in case you were worried, doesn’t involve viruses; the term alludes to the super-fast rate at which viruses spread. Viral marketing involves relying on techniques that will help spread your (promotional) message through a ‘viral process’ and reach a web-wide audience within a short amount of time.
The success of your viral marketing efforts depends on how expertly you play your social graph to use as a medium though with to push your message. However, if your message finds no takers, it can hardly go viral, which counts on people indulging in some furious sharing, and no one shares bad content. So, it would be a good idea to remember that a successful round of viral marketing needs both good content and some decent social networking skills.
Here are some handy dandy tips that you can fallback on in your hour of viral marketing need. (I love puns, can you tell?)
1. Giveaways. Everyone loves free things. Free makes everyone happy. I could delve into the exhaustive scientific studies that attest to these statements, but really, there is no need for it. The giveaway model always works, it works off the Internet, it works equally well on it too. You can offer ebooks or Internet tools, or even sample mp3s if your music is what you wish to promote, and set the ball rolling. Just ensure what you give away is not sub-standard junk that you won’t use yourself. If people like the stuff, they’ll share, talk about it and generate interest in your business.
2. Videos.Viral_YouTube
Create a really cool video about your business and upload it on YouTube and your site. You just need to take a look at the most popular viral marketing examples till-date to see the importance of this exhortation. Videos are very viral-friendly, so using them as a medium can almost guarantee you viral success. And it wouldn’t hurt if they are funny too.

Social Media. Work your Network. Today, it is fairly impossible to hope to market virally without using social media. That very fact has also made viral marketing far easier than it was before. Ensure you build a strong social network, then pass your message on to the social sphere through your connection. You can also use it as an avenue to enhance your other efforts too, share your YouTube video on Facebook or retweet a link on Twitter.

Visibility. Create a buzz. Then sustain it. The idea is to have people talking about your business. All the time. To constantly reside in their collective conscience. Memes are a great way to create viral buzz, the Armageddon meme started by the promoters of the movie 2012 was successful in generating so much viewer interest that it raked in over 500 million in profits no one was really surprised. If creating a meme is beyond you, write a post on a current topic, take a slightly controversial stance, then promote it on various social sites. That will sure get people talking.
When done the right way, most marketing efforts on social media has the potential to turn viral. What distinguishes a success from a failure, in most cases, is the initial momentum it manages to build. A slow build up doesn’t a viral campaign make. So, follow the tips mentioned above and learn to launch your viral marketing campaign right off the bat.

a la

By Zak with No comments

    • Popular
    • Categories
    • Archives