A blog about songwriting and about the songwriter Luigi Cappel

Posts tagged ‘performer’

Give Pump Audio a try

Some time ago I was told about Pump Audio, but I hadn’t checked it out until now. I’ve been using Sonic Bids for some time and I suspect if I lived in the USA, they would be really good for me, but I haven’t seen any gigs in New Zealand to aim for and very little in Australia. Don’t get me wrong, I think Sonic Bids is great, it just hasn’t been able to do anything for me.

My focus and goals are as a songwriter rather than a performer, although I do love playing to an audience. This means that my needs are to get my songs to a market, but my market is performers more than listeners which presents a problem for me. I’m not sure whether Pump Audio can do anything more for me, given that they are really looking for high quality finished product. My recordings are samples and I typically look for a way of presenting my songs that opens a door for the artist / singer to put their own personality and interpretation into it and l feel that by recording to the highest quality makes it more difficult for it to fit into someone else’s style, thereby reducing the size of my potential market.

The thin with sites like Sonic Bids is that you pay for each submission and that can add up pretty quickly. I must say that they give real value for money and the work they do is worth every cent they charge. The problem for my needs is mostly that they are US centric and more gig and song competition focussed. I will continue to use them for competitions or opportunities when I plan to travel to the US again.

So back to Pump Audio. First of all from a credibility perspective, they are owned by Getty Images, who purchased them in June last year. Getty are a world leader in photography and imagery and having just received a healthy check for a photo they bought from me recently, I know at first hand that they are serious about their business.

You can’t send Pump Audio MP3’s (except for the first couple which are an audition to see if they good enough), they are looking for high quality CD’s. The first benefit in my opinion from this is that it removes the tyre kickers who submit every song to anyone who they think will listen, and of course most of them don’t. You have to make an effort to send them your music.

You don’t pay unless they sell your music and then you get paid 50% of what they sell it for. This sounds a lot, but when I think of the money I have paid for other submission services that got me no money, this way they are motivated to move your product and if your product is good, you will get your return.

You keep your song rights (IP) and their deal is not exclusive, so you don’t have any barriers to also offering your music to other buyers. They cover a variety of media and say that last year alone they placed over 80,000 items to TV alone!

If you have high quality recordings on CD, I would highly recommend giving them a go.

In the meantime I am working on my latest song which is another song about dads and daughters, really about babies. It’s called When Madison Smiles and hopefully you will find it on my MySpace and Music Forte sites before too long.

Everybody’s talking about, Slot Music

New York, Paris, London, Munich

Everyone’s talking about, Slot Music.

At least, it finally hit the NZ Herald today . Beaten by downloads affecting retail store sales, major record companies inlcuindg  Sony BMG, Warner and EMI have decided to make their music more accessible by putting it on 1GB Micro SD Cards.

They plan to still put them into CD cases and say that with the extra space, they can include the liner, liner notes and other information. They will be DRM free and you can even play your music on your computer by using the Micro SD Card with a dongle. The music will be in MP3 format at 320kbps they say on the info site, which they say is very high quality music. Really?

The say that hundreds of millions of phones, Personal Computers and in the future lots of car entertainment sytsms will be able to listen to this music.

Well hello! Do you think we consumers are thick? Let’s go back to the future and do a different thing in the same way and charge a premieum for convenience.

So here’s the thing. Back in the day we had audio casettes and vinyl. Audio casettes were cheap because they weren’t going to last long, especially on cheap walkman units that stretched the tape if they got dropped, got hot or for lots of other reasons. Vinyl was great, you got big liner art and photos, quite often big inserts with lyrics, interviews and more photos.

Then came the CD, which they said had far greater sound and extra space to put more information on. In the future, they said, they could include music videos, interviews, games, photos and much more. Of course we had to pay more for this amazing technology but it was going to be worth it. In many cases the quality was superior, even the nice ambience of the needle was no longer there.

But the extras? Well they are the exception rather than the rule. In most cases we got less liner information, because of the size. Inserts happened sometimes but not very often and the additional material? Sometimes there was a hidden track, that was fun. Occassionally someone would add a music video and a few like BB King, put out a CD ROM with interviews, games and lots more. I still have mine, it was cool. Of course I don’t play it any more, but I felt I got my money’s worth and was chuffed that an old timer like The King could do something so modern.

So here’s my take on this. I have large quantities of CD’s and DVD’s pressed, not of my music unfortunately, but for car navigation. I also have large quantities of SD Cards duplicated, also for car navigation. Firstly, even at volume pricing SD Cards are much more expensive than CD’s or DVD’s.

Universal Music is going to release about 30 ‘Slots’ to start with, from their eLabs Digital Music Unit. Sounds more like a test to me, but anyway, I do applaud them for trying new technology. I think it’s a good idea to try new technology, given that CD’s are losing ground rapidly to downloads.

Will they add extra information to the SD Cards? Maybe for some of those first 30, but then it wil be the same old story, new media for a premium price (for the convenience) and nothing more. If they had listened to people like me 10 years ago (Netguide wouldn’t publish my opinion), they could have reinvented a format giving loads of extra value, far more than people could afford to download and created a whole new generation of fans and collectors. But no, they just wanted to increase cash flow and profit. After all, they knew far better than we consumers, what was good for us.

In my humble opinion, they created the monster we have today where people download and share music for free. And it is a monster friends, because what is happening is people are downloading music for free and the poor songwriters and performers are getting ripped off.  Sure there are big bands making truckloads of money for themselves and their promotors, but they are the minority. Most of the people in your favorite bands have to work a day job in order to be able to write and perform music at night. This might not be the case if they got fair remuneration for their work.

I ask you this. Do you work for free? Do you expect to go to work and build widgets or whatever you do and expect other people to reproduce them for peanuts and give them to your mates? Will you accept a 90% reduction in your income because people have found a way to clone your products? I didn’t think so.

Anyway, after that minor digression, this is a storm in a slot. Sure they will make some of these. Then they will cry foul when people copy them (if they can be bothered). They will weep when these cards don’t get sold, except on eBay, Craig’s List or Trade Me after people have copied the music onto their computers and shared them with their mates.

I love new technology, but when I can go to iTunes and for a couple of dollars, buy the only song as a track that I like (because I am happy for the band to make some money from it), why would I buy a little SD Card that I will probably lose.

In my humble opinion, the music industry got this one wrong. Can they redeem it? Only if they figure a way to genuinely add value. They want to offer the music on iGB SD Cards. (Interesting that I struggle to even buy 1GB SD Cards anymore.) Why not do something smart and offer us real value. Do what you should have done years ago and you might find a couple of years of legs in this yet. Use 4GB cards. Load it with the music, the live performance video, the interviews, the music video, lyric sheets (the mechanical rights people can still get a share) and a personal spoken message from the band or artist. You could sell that for a premium and create collectors items that people will want to keep.

Of course when real broadband arrives, people are no longer going to buy music in hard copy. I’m sorry but they won’t. Why would you. The other day I sat down in front of YouTube an had a great afternoon watching videos and listening to music of my favourite bands of the past and the present. All it cost me was a bit of internet access (and I do have ADSL 2 from Orcon so speed wasn’t an issue.

I think the future will be:

New York, Paris, London, Munich, Nobody’s talking about Slot Music.

Live music banned in Bangalore

At first when I read this on Muziboo, a site I have just been invited to join and posted a couple of songs on, I thought this was just some situation that was being exaggerated, I mean how can such a large city ban live music.

When I think of India, I think of Sitar and Tabla, religious music and those awesome rythms ad I can’t think of anything better than going out to a Bangalore Bar and listening toa live band. But no, it’s for real as I read in The Times of India.

Live bands and even karaoke have been banned by the police. It seems that music leads to drinking and drinking leads to crime. The entertainment and hospitality industry are suffering big time, but as a songwriter and performer, my heart goes out to the performers who’s livelihood is at stake and the people who enjoy music to relax and unwind, to be happy and share good times with their friends and family.

Shame on you, Bangalore Police. This is patently wrong and ther world is watching you. I suppose you would be happiest if you put the whole city under house arrest. Sure there will be people at dance parties who get over enthusiastic and there may even be the odd fight, but for the most part, people who are enjoying music are doing just that, being happy. Give them a break. if you have to make them employ extra security at places where there is risk, but you can’t stop the music!

Music Critics and getting the media to your gig

The media has power, they are mavens and have huge control over what people listen to and what they think they should like. Many artists, like politician, don’t like critics at all, they don’t like what they write, but in the end I think the addage that any media is good media, applies much of the time.

They say I see it is that if the media writes about you, they are giving you attention and hopefuly someone will dig deeper, look for you on MySpace, or go to one of your gigs. If they make the effort, then reward them with recognition themselves. Show an interest in them.

When I first started chasing the media, it was to get attention for my sport at the time which was landyachting. We had a team going to Nevada for the America’s Cup of Landyachting and our sport was not great for spectators because our courses were often very long, as in 30 or more km. We needed sponsorship and both to attract sponsors and to get them coverage, we had to get the media to write stories and show us on TV etc. The main way I achieved that (and we won the cup) was by ringing the media and asking for their help and advice. I got it, they got stories and we got coverage.

So how do you get the media to your gig? First try and find media that might be interested in your genre, the best place to start is to listen to them on radio or read their stories. When you find people that you think would like your offerings, send them a CD. It could be demo’s or a commercial production. Send them your bio and invite them to your gig. It’s worth ringing them first to tell them what you are sending them, including the invitation and ask them for the best way to get it to them. That sets up a personal relationship so it isn’t just an impersonal envelope that looks like something you have sent to everyone.

Ask them to come and introduce themselves to you if they do turn up at the gig and make some time to talk to them. It wouldn’t hurt to make a fuss of them and build them up and the gig either, maybe in the middle of a set, shout out a welcome to them and get the audience to give them a friendly clap. The media is a networking environment and I have no doubt that they will appreciate the recognition.

Having recognised them, spoken with them at the gig, understood what they like, dislike or didn’t understand, you will be developing a realtionship with them and it is much more likely that they will give you a good review. After all, you are friends now, right?

Remember that people write about a particular topic because they like and are interested in it. If they are a music critic (and I use that term loosely, but if they are writing about a gig, they are offering their personal critique) they are doing it because they like music. If they come to your gig, it is because they want to be entertained and to like your offering, it’s outside of their work hours, i.e. they are gving up their personal space. They probably also want to be seen in the right places and are looking for other artists or interesting people. If you rewadr them for their effort, they will probably do the same for you and you may end up with a long term ally that can help you up those little steps to local stardom.

Make your Bio text effective

Why do you have a Bio? Is it to make you feel important? Is it written for a purpose? There may be many places where you can use a Bio, for example on a blog, on your music page or to get someone to do something.

I would hope it would be to get someone to do something. Today I am talking about the bio that you send to an A&R person, I record company, a publisher, or someone who you want to have buy or perform your music. In most cases this would be a document you would post, courier or give to that person.

You want the person who reads your bio to act, to listen to your demo, so the first thing you have to do is make them want to read it in the first place.

In advertising and writing news stories, my favourite formula has always been AIDA or AICDA. Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. the C in the second one stands for Conviction. So in simple terms:

Attention. Make them want to read the whole bio, which is I said yesterday, should be 2-4 paragraphs. Start with a line to grab their attention, just like a headline. It might be something compelling about you, or maybe something about the song the Bio accompanies.

Interest. Tell something interesting about yourself.

Interest. What is special or interesting about you, and here is something that I have learned from the media world, make it relevant to the specific reader. If I am sending out press releases, it’s not one size fits all, I modify it for each media or publication to make it relevant.

Desire, make them want to read more, or to become involved with you.

Conviction. Convince them that the time they spend reading your Bio and listening to your songs is going to be well spent and rewarding.

Action. Ask them to listen to your song and point out respectfully what you are asking from them. This is a business document and not just a whiny, please listen to my song cause mum said its really good.

Start with your most recent achievements first and given that you only have 4 paragraphs, make them short and snappy. Don’t use exaggerated praise, don’t say you are the best artist they have ever heard, be humble but confident.

Artspace Music Industry Seminar

Today I went to an awesome seminar at Artspace. For the ridiculous sum of $5 I came away with pages of useful notes, many of which I will share on this blog, which was the first new activity I committed myself to at the seminar today.

The speakers were Rebecca Caughey of Funktion Music Media who gave us loads of great information including how to put together Press Kits and the whole process of how to do tour promotion from time of concept to the actual event and of course how to get people to your gigs and loads of useful people who can help in the various media.

Next was Lauren Clough of Maiden NZ Entertainment.  She not only gave us lots of information but challenged us with loads of tasks to make sure we did more than just take notes. A major part of her presentation was about understanding your target market indepth and making sure everything you do is consistent with that market. She gave us a truckload of information about Press Kits, both physical and EPK. How to get the right media to cover you gigs and story in a way that makes it easy and relevant for them.

The last speaker was Matt Turner of Kurb Promotions. Now I’ve been a fan of his blogs for some time and he did not disappoint. Now Matt reckons he is not practiced in public speaking, well he could have fooled the audience who were frantically taking notes on top of the excellent handout he left with us. If you are serious about marketing yourself on the web, this guy has studied it in depth and made it his lifework. You really should make contact and at the least follow his blog on MySpace.

What did I learn? Well you should have been there yourself. I took pages of notes and together with the tasks I gave myself, including creating this new blog, it would take me longer than the day I spent to tell you everything. Next time Artspace put on a seminar, go support them.

Oh and also a shoutout to Tabitha Frazer of Yellow Beatle records who was the only person who gave me a business card, it was a great one too. I hope to find out more about your business soon.

So thanks for reading this, I hope you will subscribe and encourage me to do more posts and also will pop over to my MySpace page, have a listen and send me a friend request, maybe eve give me a vote on the Demand It banner:)

Oh and do leave a comment please:)

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