Tag Archive for 'Pandora'

Survival Guide for Engaging Fans and Building a Career in Music [Infographic]

Careers in music are built on fans that are engaged with the music and feel connected to the artist. Fortunately there are dozens of services and tools to help artists. Yet if you’re an artist, where do you start? Do you need more than one service? If so, what’s the right combination for you? How do you make sense of it all?

With artists struggling to figure out what they need to do, we’ve developed a “Survival Guide for Engaging Fans and Building a Career in Music” to put shape around this increasingly confusing landscape. It illustrates the ‘tools-for-musicians’ ecosystem, some (but of course, not all) of the key players, their relationship to the whole, and how mobile plays into all of this.

Here’s how it works:

First, do whatever needs to be done to get discovered. This doesn’t mean getting discovered by millions of people, but rather, a core initial group of fans that you will build on.

Next, engage this core initial group of fans in an interactive and authentic way in order to convert them from casual fans into loyal fans. By doing so, fans will be much more likely to support you financially and spread the word.

Once a deep connection has been made, offer fans many ways to support you financially and make it easy for them to do so. This includes selling music and creative bundles directly from your website, offering unique merch, and giving fans the opportunity to invest in you through one of the many crowdfunding platforms out there, like PledgeMusic. Get creative and don’t assume the only way to get paid is to sell music in iTunes!

Finally, carefully analyze what has worked and what hasn’t, and adjust things accordingly. Then, repeat, repeat, repeat… and don’t forget about mobile!

Music Discovery in 2010

A year and a half ago I wrote a post about the Top 5 Music Discovery Sites. A lot has happened since then: MySpace acquired iLike, MySpace acquired (and buried) iMeem (and then brought back their users’ playlists), Google Music Search was born, and the mobile music space exploded all over us thanks to the iPhone and the whole new world of opportunities now open to iPhone app developers… to name just a few things.

So, what are the best options available for music discovery right now? Here is my updated list:

The customizable internet radio station that knows your musical taste so well it’s just plain creepy. Assuming you use Pandora somewhat actively, i.e. click the thumbs up/thumbs down buttons or suggest songs, the service is shockingly adept at playing music you will dig. Cool features like station gifting and the ability to share songs via email, Twitter, or Facebook give it a social slant. Links to iTunes and Amazon let you quickly purchase songs for your personal collection. And of course, if you’re striving for musical snobbery, Pandora not only tells you all sorts of fun facts about the artist, the album, or the song, but also explains (in terms probably only the serious musicologists among us would understand) exactly why it recommended a particular song. Oh, and Pandora is coming soon to a car near you.
Mobile Status: Android, Blackberry, iPhone, Palm, Windows and more.

Our current favorite place to discover sick ass new music is thesixtyone, which purports to make music more democratic: “artists upload their work for review, but, rather than allow a stuffy suit in a boardroom to decide what’s good, thousands of listeners do.” The site also rewards listeners who are active participants by allowing them to “earn reputation, level up [their] influence, and collect badges,” making it almost like a Yelp culture for music fans. You can connect your account to Facebook, share what you’re listening to etc. If you’re an artist planning to put your music on t61, here’s what you should know.
Mobile Status: Nothing yet, but fans are chomping at the bit (check out the comments on their Facebook note.)

Midomi and Shazaam
I’m grouping these two together because they are different versions of the same thing. While Shazaam seems to have the most traction (likely due to its simplicity and clean look and feel), Midomi has more features. It can recognize not only that song playing on your car radio, but also singing, whistling, and humming. Although it’s very gratifying to instantly identify a song you hear, the real power in this technology lies in the actionable options presented along with the search result. Once you’ve identified the song, you can buy it, share it, watch the video etc.
Mobile Status (Midomi): Android, iPhone, Nokia, Windows.

Mobile Status (Shazaam): Android, Blackberry, iPhone, Nokia

First of all, let me just say that I am not a fan of the current design. Specifically, it’s the sidebar on the left that I find very aesthetically displeasing. Besides that, however, Grooveshark is a very cool service. You can upload your own music collection and stream it from wherever. Or search for music and stream it instantly. Of course it has all the social goodies as well, including embeddable widgets for your blog.
Mobile Status: Android, Blackberry.

Hype Machine
This clever little site is a music blog aggregator. As they say, “every day, thousands of people around the world write about music they love — and it all ends up here.” Go ahead. Nerd out. Worth mentioning, also, is RCRD LBL, which is a “network of ad supported online record labels and blogs offering completely free music and multimedia content from emerging and established artists.” Yes, free mp3s.
Mobile Status: iPhone app in the works?

Honorable Mentions:

Blip.fm is essentially Twitter for music, allowing you to share tracks (along with brief comments and messages) with other users in a real-time stream. Naturally, it’s also integrated with Twitter and Facebook, so you can showcase your awesome musical taste by becoming the DJ and showing off your skillz. Or, you can use the service as a music discovery tool by listening to other DJs.
Mobile Status: iPhone (“Boombox Pro”)

Amazon Music
Amazon created a lot of buzz early on with their recommendation engine for books and things. Why shouldn’t it work just as well for music? Turns out it does… In fact, it’s a pretty solid option. You can listen to samples, plus do all the usual nifty Amazon-y things.
Mobile Status: iPhone

While JamLegend (the computer nerd’s answer to Guitar Hero & Rock Band) is first and foremost a game, it’s also a totally viable place for music discovery. As you sort through featured or new artists and songs, you might just stumble upon some great new stuff… You might also get sucked in and spend 12 hours pressing the 1, 2, and 3 keys on your keyboard. Consider yourself warned.
Mobile Status: JamLegend hasn’t gone mobile, but RockBand has an iPhone app, and of course there is Tap Tap Revenge (the Guitar Hero-style game).

How will YOU discover new music in 2010?

Google Music Search

Is there anything that Google can’t do? At least when it comes to search, the answer appears to be no. The behemoth has now teamed with, you know, pretty much all the big players in the music industry to bring us the sleekest and simplest way to search for and discover music. We’re talking Lala, Imeem, MySpace (which has now aquired iLike), Pandora, Rhapsody, and the major labels.

Enter Google Music Search.

Though currently only available in the US (due to licensing and what not), the music search capability is already integrated into Google search, meaning you just search like you normally do. When you search for a song, an artist, random lyrics, or an album, Google will bring up streaming links – similar to what Seeqpod did before it hit some legal speedbumps and (allegedly) got bought out by Microsoft (when you go to their website it redirects to Bing). Additionally, you can easily click through to one of the partner sites to to access info about the artist, buy the song, check out lyrics etc.

Apparently, music is way up near the top of the list of what people search for. Google would know. The problem was it just took too long to get to get there. Now, just as with everything else that Google touches, music search has become simple and elegant.

Spooonful: Hand Delivered and Easy to Swallow Music Discovery

You love discovering new music. You love social networking and social media. Everything that ends with 2.0 gets your attention. Out of sheer enthusiasm for emerging technologies and your obsession with music, you sign up for every new service you find.

When it comes to music discovery, maybe you’ve tooled around with the likes of Last.fm, Grooveshark, Fuzz, iLike, Pandora, imeem, or one of the many others out there. If so, you may have experienced a sense of disorientation, information overload, or maybe you became paralyzed by indecision. Or maybe you’re simply too busy to spend time looking for new music and you’d rather that new music could just come looking for you for once.

A nice little service called Spooonful has a solution to that problem. In their own words: “Our mission is simple. A free weekly email newsletter delivered right to your inbox introducing you to one great new artist or band at a time. You’ll get a preview of what they sound like as well as links to buy a track, a whole album, even get out to a show.” Your weekly spoonful of new music! Check it out.

Kick Ass Music Apps for the iPhone

Ah, mobile music. How sad would our lives be without it?

First came the iPod that we all know and love, which made its predecessors (the Boombox, the Walkman, the MiniDisc, the MP3 player) look just…silly. Its many subsequent iterations became sleeker and cooler each time. Then the iPhone came along and more and more of us drank the Apple flavored Kool-Aid. With 3G and the rapidly expanding App Store, the iPhone has become a veritable phenomenon.

Despite ongoing issues with MobileMe, email, low battery life and more, the little phone machine is charging down its steep rocky path alone, leaving its competitors in the dust and getting better every day.

Random sidenote: Someone actually told me they were torn between the new iPhone and the new Blackberry. I told him that’s like saying you’re torn between Prime Rib and a Big Mac. (He bought the iPhone the next day.)

Combining your phone and your music player into one device was certainly a convenient first step. But now, with the App Store going nuts, more and more innovative music apps for the iPhone are popping up. Here are my favorites so far:

Yes, I know. We rave about Pandora ad nauseum. But, quite frankly, they deserve it. What was already a killer service is now one of the leading iPhone apps. Sick of your own music? Hate the radio? Then open up Pandora at home, in your car, or in your earphones while you’re on the go and have your customized radio station at your finger tips. Remember, the more you use it the better it gets. In this case I say go ahead Captain Curious! Open up Pandora’s box and watch the magic unfold.

How often do you find yourself saying “Wait, who sings this song?” You make a mental note to find out later and never actually do? Here is the answer to your dilemma. Open Shazam, let your iPhone “listen” to the song in question and it will tell you the artist and track name. Freaking great. I’ve also been using it as a way to effortlessly tag songs that I want to possibly download later, as I hear them.

On the flip side of Shazam’s service, you have SeeqPod. You know the artist or track name but don’t have the song when you want it. Type it into SeeqPod and, boom, their crawler finds songs and videos for you. (We’ve mentioned them before too, as pioneers of a growing digital music trend – “playable search”.) So now, with SeeqPod on your iPhone, whenever a song pops into your head that you want to hear it’s there for you.

Midomi is like Shazam, but with with more flavors to choose from. In addition to letting your phone “listen” to the song à la Shazam (Midomi calls it “grab” not “listen”), you can also sing/hum the tune, or say/type the song name. Very handy. Naturally, once you find the song you can buy it on iTunes, bookmark and share, watch YouTube videos etc. Watch the overview video here.

All of the above are easy to use, insanely practical, and really fun to have. But, for the more musically inclined among you, here are a few others worth checking out:

For musicians, there is Stay in Tune, TyroRuner (guitars only), and OmniTuner to tune your instrument on the go. If you want a mobile click track check out Orfeo or iMetronome. For DJ types, MixMeister scratch (cool concept, reviews not great though) and BeatMaker (see a review and video here).

And these are just the early apps. Imagine how prehistoric they will seem in a year or two…