QR Codes are going to be everywhere soon. They are similar to bar codes and already very popular in Japan. Japanese teenagers print T-shirts with QR codes on them. When the shirts are shot with a phone camera it launches their homepage. Tell me that’s not pretty cool. I created the above QR code which will take you to Wire to the Ear. I used a free service found at: qrcode.kaywa.com
There are a few QR Code readers for the iPhone. There is a free QR Code reader named Barcodes. Barcodes does the magic trick well: You take a photo of a QR Code, it scans it and asks you if you want to launch the URL.
iCandy is a service that matches QR Code creation with sharing and printing. Without a doubt I’m going to put a QR code to my latest album on the back of my business cards.
Often a promoter from an event I am booked to play will ask me to do an anthem. Sometimes they want to post the song on their website before of after the gig. Other times they are doing a CD for the event and want a song with the event’s name in it to kick it off.
A few weeks ago I played in East Germany at the Alte Lampenfabrik for an event called Ton Aus Strom. It was there 10 Year anniversary party. As part of the plan they recorded my set direct from the mixing console. I started my show with an anthem for them. I did some screaming, pitchshifting and beat shuffling. Some of the vocals… “Ton Aus Strom” “Take Over!” “East Germany!” “Deutschland!”
Scribd is a San Fransisco web company that helps you present documents online. You join up, upload and your doc, pdf, xls, txt, rtf, ppt, odt files to the service and then it displays your upload in an interface which is easy on the eyes. For example, the readers who find your Scribd document can zoom around, flip pages, see thumbnail views and jump into a full screen mode. There are options for viewers to email your iPaper (that’s the official name of your Scribd uploads), save them for later reading, embed them, leave comments and add them to Scribd Groups.
So what’s good about this for musicians? Press kits baby! If you search online for “online press kit maker” you will find many companies willing to charge you $499 to make a flash type of online magazine out of your clippings. But Scribed does this free (ad supported) and has Social Networking and SEO built in so people actually find your interviews and five star reviews.
Something to keep in mind is you have to get written permission from each magazine or newspaper you plan to copy from. If contacted with a DMCA notice Scribed will zap your file. When I get contacted by a magazine asking, “Would you do an interview in GothWorld?”. I always say yes of course as long as I have the right to reproduce and distribute the article. There is plenty of copyrighted material on Scribed as there is on YouTube, Flickr, etc… so I don’t suspect many publishers will be asking for your Press Kit to be deleted. After all it’s good promotion for them too.
Another thing I discovered while trolling the site was that there is a bunch of sheet music that’s been uploaded including an Aimie Street sheet music Group. I always say the best way to improve your sound is to take piano lessons. If your teaching yourself here’s some compositions you can check out for free. If you are a beginner I would not try the “Crazy Musical Scores” I embedded above!
So far all my recent press is: click here. It’s time I get all my saved press clippings going back to 1990 and get them into a Scribd and backup PDF.
When I first started my record label over 10 years ago I included 8.5×11 sheets of paper inside ever single record with information about the songs, label and artist (see below right). When the web started to flourish I stopped killing trees and sent email news. At the beginning I had only about 250 contacts but I knew almost all of them personally. At that time my promo emails were all text and I would send about one a month. As people sent fan mail or I met “kids” at shows I would collect their email addresses. By 2001 I had several thousand people on my email list. Around that time I started sending my “eNews” every two weeks and was sending graphic pretty HTML email. Each time I sent an email news out I would get about twenty responses from close friends and family, a host of questions about where to buy merchandise and usually a promoter or two asking to book one of us.
Well eventually and unfortunately spam took over the worlds email system. We all remember that right? I remember in the early 00s going from 10 spams a week to well over 100+. Because of that my ISP blocked me from sending my own newsletter out too. I pleaded with them and explained that everyone on my list was “opt in” it but alas no luck. I then discovered a piece of software called Maxbulk Mailer. Maxbulk allowed me to throttle my newsletters so they would get past my Host’s blocking system. For about two years this worked fine. About a year ago Maxbulk was also rendered useless. My host and by the look of the Maxprog forums most other people’s hosts knew how to stop Maxbulk Mailer. I know some people still use the software with success but dealing with blocked ports simply made my day way more boring than I could handle. Sadly, I stopped sending my newsletter.
I put some thought into how mid to large size companies were sending their own pretty spam to me. Then it hit me: They pay someone to do it! Immediately my super smart friend Google pointed me to companies like Constant Contact and Mailchimp. I was almost sold on using them but to be honest I couldn’t look at the PC style Contant Contact website and well the price was just too high for my to justify. To send my my list of about 4800 people it was going to run me about $50 per month.
A few weeks ago I made a very happy discovery called Mad Mimi. This is not an advert for them. I would tell you early on before you read this far if I was leading you to buy something. Mad Mimi is similar to Constant Contact however it’s gorgeous and cheap (or even free up to 100 contacts). Anyone who wants to shoot a newsletter out can use the service it but I discovered it was originally designed for musicians. You design really nice email Promotions using templates and your own images. You can also customize the CSS to perfection. It saves all the different promotions you make in your profile. You import your contacts (called Audience). After Mad Mimi sends your Promotion out it lets you know email addresses that bounced and lets you delete them from your Audience list. You can also track if people clicked or forwarded your promotion (how does it know that?). It also handles unsubscribing for you. Lastly Mad Mimi gives you an HTML snippet so you can embed a sign up page on your websites. This is another thing I used to do locally now moved into the cloud
Never ever spam. Don’t use anyone else’s list. Don’t buy lists. Slowly create a list of people who are really interested in what your doing. I also recommend that you don’t send more than two promotions a month because it’s just plain annoying (Beatport are you listening?).
Have you ever tried email marketing? Are there any pro-audio companies or bands that have notoriously bugged you with spam?
One year ago today I installed WordPress and starting typing this blog. My main motivation was to give my friends a break from the relentless emails and instant messages I was invading them with. I couldn’t stop showing them new audio gear and software I thought was cool. I figured if I started my own blog they could come and visit if they so cared and I would also find new people to have conversations with. I am happy to report I have gained quite a lot of new friends and my old buds are reading the blog too.
Another motivation was to have a place for common questions I was being asked repeatedly. Today if someone asks me a question I have a post I can point them to. Getting an unwanted distored sound from your DAW? Go here: keep-your-channel-faders-low… You don’t know how to bring in external hardware into Ableton Live? Go here: use-the-ableton-live-external… By the way if you have a question you want me to try an answer send me an email: email@example.com
Of course as a professional musician having a blog is a must. I’ve been using Wire to the Ear to share my remixes and new releases. Getting unbiased feedback from strangers should be a priority for any artist. Your friends and family are always going to tell you your music is good.
My goal is to continue to post a balance of original content mixed with the best stuff I find along my online travels. I’ve had a blast visiting Jomox and doing interviews with people like Dan McPharlin so expect more material like that. I really want to give my fingers a break and get in front of the video camera and do some video posts or even a fancy show. So far the test video posts I did were too geeky to show the world. Eventually I will figure out a way to produce something that I am happy with.
If you want to help support Wire to the Ear all you have to do is go tell your friends to read it! Remember you can also subscribe to the RSS feed by: clicking here
Do you remember my post titled, “Why every musician should have a flickr pro account.“? If not, go read it and get back over here. Today’s post is about two things. First, flickr now has a great new way to embed slideshows like the one you see above. Second, a reminder that flickr groups are a great place to go to get your gearlust on!
You could always embed slideshows from flickr using flickrslidr. But the new embeddable slideshows direct from flickr itself are very nice. You can customize the embed size without going into the code, decide if the titles and descriptions are displayed and videos now play inside slideshows!
One of the main improvements we’ve made is that you can watch videos as they appear in a slideshow. When we come to a video in a slideshow, we’ll play it before we move on to the next item. You can also embed a slideshow on another website in bite-sized form. Just click the “Share” link from any slideshow, then copy and paste the embed code wherever you want. – blog.flickr.net
The above slideshow is from The Audio Recording Studio group. Here are a few other music related groups I like to check out from time to time:
Flickr is a fun place and it’s also a highly usefull promotional tool. Using flickr stats I can see my own photos have been viewed 102,234 times. The most viewed photo? The Horrorist – Studio… easy, free promotion!
Have you spent anytime checking out Groups on flickr? Got any favorites?
Brian “Botkiller” from Albuquerque, New Mexico shares his thoughts on playing live. I agree with what he says concerning doing your own share of promotion. Even if your playing an event with 10 other hot acts and you you know it will be packed you want 50 of your own superfans front and center. Remember crowds follow the lead of the people near the stage!
I talk about working with promoters and clubs and promoting your shows. – brianbotkiller
He’s also correct to mention that the person who books you is probably not the only individual who you need to deal with. Getting to know a few people who work at the venue early on could save your if anything goes wrong at 2AM.
I noticed he kicks off the video by mentioning he just bought a house. Congrats to Brian but later in the video he mentions sometimes he only gets $10 for a gig! He must be in one hard working band! Maybe he has a day job? Something about his “vlog” videos crack me up but I respect him for going for it.
Last night I reached 10,000 friends on MySpace. I’ve never tried to hack the system or send a bot out to friend people. It’s true a large percent of those 10,000 maybe fake, spam or who knows but you can bet a whole bunch are real fans. First off I created a MySpace bulletin (blog post?) saying thanks and I really do mean it. Without an audience there is no artist or musician.
The surprise came when I logged in this morning and I got a message stating I could: Automatically Approve Friend Requests. So getting to 10,000 actually got me something cool. Who knew?!
I know a lot of people knock MySpace and there are plenty of competitors but I still use and love the site. There’s no better way to get an instant view of a band. MySpace is in talks with Amazon and the major labels creating a deal for a new MySpace Music store. They plan to launch in September and I think it could be big. Check out the article on TechCrunch: click here
Yesterday a box arrived from Neuton who distributes my record label, Things to Come Records. It was the new release from Ionic Vision called “Club Isolation”. Ionic Vision are a well known EBM (Electronic Body Music) band from Belgium. They contacted me about releasing remixes for two songs off their new album “Sweet Isolation”. When they told me they already had mixes from David Carretta and Millimetric I knew I had to do it.
So back to the box and the point of this post. I always love opening a box of new records and I knew Andy de Decker from Ionic Vision wouldn’t be getting his records for a few days so I decided to videotape myself opening the box to show him. Then I remembered all the Macbook Pro box opening videos there are on YouTube and the light went off in my head. So you see the creation above. Don’t forget to blast the music behind your show and put links to places you can buy the release!
Belgian EBM band Ionic Vision releases 12 inch single on Things to Come Records with remixes by David Carretta, The Horrorist, Millimetric and Stamba! This is Electronic Body Music! The Carretta & Millimetric remixes of Sleep & Die Macht are set to be giant hits in Darkwave clubs and Industrial Goth events. The Horrorist remix will scare the living daylights out of you. Stamba from Bordeaux shows off his studio skills in a slick production. As with all TTC releases: MUST HAVE! – Neuton.com
There are more things you can do than a simple unboxing as far as video promos go. Find one of the first stores selling the new baby and do a video walk in and show the record on the shelf. Get two nice looking ladies to play frisbie with the new 12 inch single (in slow motion of course). The skies the limit. I wonder how to make a video promo of a Digital Download unboxing?
Vimeo, Viddler or Blip.tv are all video hosting sites which look much better than YouTube. The video above which is hosted on Vimeo alows me to customize the color of the text overlay. But which ever site you choose to host your promo also add the video to YouTube because of the shear volume of viewers on that site. Don’t forget to add tags to your video so your promo shows up when someone searches “ebm” or “Things to Come Records” for example.
Be warned that like blog posts people can comment on your video. Some people will think the idea of a record box opening completely stupid. However, fans want to know the behind the scenes stuff and record collectors are a special bunch who will drool as they watch the shiny new vinyl appear!
More info about Ionic Vision “Club Isolation”: click here
Stickers and rock buttons are seriously important for any band to have. These are the classic promotional items because they are cheap to make and when displayed promote your name. What’s more important to you: The latest X-Box game or 250 4.25″ square stickers to give away? Both will run you about $60.
I like to keep my my stickers and rock buttons black with white printing. Besides keeping the cost low it stands out the most.
For rock buttons (or pins as I like to call them) I use the popular RockButtons.com. The size you want is 1 inch. At least thats the standard size you see on every punk rockers jacket. 250 pins will cost you $65 and you can have 2 designs in that bunch. For $115 you can have 500 pins and 3 designs. For the rock buttons color doesn’t cost more. You can also add your website URL or slogan printed along the edge of the pin at no extra charge.
You can also make your own rock buttons. You need to buy a button making machine and the button parts. Check out buttonmakers.net for everything you need to know.
When it comes to stickers your going to want to check out stickerguy.com. I discovered them when watching the video below by a guy named “Brian Botkiller“. You want stickers that are each on a separate cut. If you get them on a roll you will have to cut each sticker from the roll. This doesn’t really work in practice (I’ve tried it). You think to yourself I’ll just cut them in advance but stickers cut from a roll are bent and don’t hold their shape in a stack… it’s messy. Luckily stickerguy is so freakin inexpensive you can afford their cut stickers. Orders from stickerguy take up to 8 weeks so order well in advance of when you need them.
With both rockbuttons.com and stickerguy.com you upload your designs via a web interface. They offer templates for Photoshop and Illustrator you can download.
The best time to hand out your free gifts is during any low in your live set. In between songs or any long breakdown. If you have any technical problems hand stuff out to buy some love! Remember to keep a few extra giveaways for the promoter and any nice looking ladies that you meet after the show.
By the way both the places I mention in this post are in the USA. If anyone knows any rock bottom cheap places to manufacture this stuff in Berlin please let me know in the comments.