A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

Get People’s Attention First

Tom Petty sang “Love Is A Long Road” and it should be the aim for every artist. There should be a need to foster the love of the audience into a sustainable career. But it takes time. In the words of Bon Scott, it’s a “Long Way To The Top”. You’ll get ripped off and on some occasions you’ll get paid. You will have highs and you will have lows. Relationships will break down, friends will leave you and your fans will fall in and out of love with you.

But no one wants to take the time to build the love. There is a general viewpoint that artists believe if they record an album and it gets released, they are entitled to some form of payment. It doesn’t work that way. It’s never worked that way. It’s the audience who decides who gets paid. I am sure the majority of artists understand it.

Relationships are hard. Anybody who tells you they’re easy is lying or has a bad one. And for any artist these days, it is all about relationships. If you want an audience to invest, you need to establish a relationship. You need to make the effort. The days of touring a city based on the sales figures of recorded music in that city/state are long gone. In vogue is data.

How many people are listening to your music in the city?

How many people are downloading your music in the city?

Ask Dream Theater, Metallica, Rush or Iron Maiden how many albums they have sold in Central and South America?

Then ask them how many people came to their shows in those countries. Mike Portnoy stated in the linear notes on the released bootleg recording of Dream Theater’s Santiago, Chile show from June 2005 that they didn’t know what to expect from South America as they haven’t sold many records there. They even went to the show with a cut down stage set to save money and proceeded to play to their biggest live audience.

All the technology companies have a simple method. Get people’s attention first and the money will come later. It’s not any different for musicians. Instead of breaking down what streaming companies pay per listen, focus on what people are listening to. Because everybody like me wants to find the good stuff, the kind of good stuff we can talk to others about.

Think about the times we live in. This news story has been in my inbox for a while, and it fits perfectly with what I am trying to say above.

Ryan Adams has 695,000 Follower on twitter and he posted a few tweets about “Christopher the Conquered” and how his album “I’m Giving Up on Rock N’ Roll” is blowing his mind. So how did Christopher The Conquered life change from this free promotion to 695,000 followers of another artists.

Here are the results that “Christopher The Conquered” shared;

• Website Page Views – 2489 views
• YouTube Videos: 1653 new views
• Sound Cloud: Single from album – 572 Plays
• Facebook: 82 new likes
• Instagram: 40 new followers
• Twitter: 31 new followers
• Spotify: 28 new followers
• Email Newsletter: 12 sign ups
• Internet Sales (Not including iTunes, Spotify, etc. – that takes a while to get those numbers): $86

So going back to my message, “Get people’s attention first and the money will come later”.

The numbers above show me that Ryan Adam’s doesn’t really have 695,000 followers who are invested in what he does and in what he says. The numbers show me that Ryan Adams fan to artist relationship  is more like 1 to 5% of that number.

This also applies to metal and rock twitter users.

Dave Coverdale has 180,600 followers but only 5% of that 180,600 number are interested in what he has to say or in what he does. Others might check out his tweets, but only a few engage.

Papa Roach has 566,000 followers but again, if you look at their account and the people engaging with them, the numbers are so much smaller.

Dave Mustaine recently posted a tweet so he can get to 1 million followers (at the moment he has 867,500 followers) but like all of the other Twitter users only a small percentage are engaging with him. However, in saying that, Dave’s entry into wine and beer making has given him a stronger following and there is more fan engagement because of it. In other words, fans of Dave Mustaine are engaging with him over music, beer and wine.

Persistence and perseverance are the key to life. If you give up when it gets hard, you will accomplish little and you’ll get nowhere. And you need to keep working on getting people’s attention every single time.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Cervello – A Great Band That Is No More. Find Out What They Could Have Done Different.

I just heard Cervello’s debut album (released in 2011) today and I liked it. I wanted to find out more information. So what do you do in 2013 if you want to find out more information.

You go onto Google and type in Cervello. The first link is an Italian progressive band from the Seventies. WTF. This doesn’t look like the modern rock artists that I am hearing. It’s not looking good so far. Clicking on Facebook and Twitter pages, I finally get some information.

Before I get to commenting on the information, I want to point out that their web presence is abysmal. Putting all of their faith in Facebook and Twitter as their only web strategy demonstrates that the online world was just too hard for the band to participate in. In this day and age, your online presence is everything. Even the website wasn’t updated.

I suppose with a Facebook post from February 2, 2013, that states the following, I understand why;

We have some sad news to share… Cervello as a band has ceased working together. We’ve had a blast! It’s been tuff some times, but always fun. We want to thank every single one of you for your support. For the kind words! For rocking out at our gigs! For helping us spread our music!

We would also like to sincerely apologize to everyone that had planned to see us tomorrow. If it was possible, believe me, we would have done the gig.

Much Love
Cervello

Then there was a follow up comment (it was in Swedish, so I used Google to translate it) to the post;

Due to internal problems so this was probably the best solution to end. Sorry to disappoint you, and having to set up a cruel gig tomorrow but I can say that you will see more of me.

That was from vocalist/guitarist and founder, MICHEL BAIONI. He is from Stockholm, Sweden and was originally a drummer. 

The first thing I want to point out is that the album is solid. It is a very good rock album. In 2011, the competition was fierce for listeners attention. Cervello’s self-titled album had to compete with the following releases;

  • Evergrey – Glorious Collision
  • Sixx AM – This Is Gonna Hurt
  • Red – Until We Have Faces
  • Machine Head – Unto The Locust
  • Five Finger Death Punch – American Capitalist
  • Times Of Grace – The Hymn Of A Broken Man
  • Whitesnake – Forevermore
  • Art Of Dying – Vices And Virtues
  • Trivium – In Waves
  • Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn of Events
  • Ten Second Epic – Better Off
  • Madina Lake – World War III
  • Black Veil Brides – Set The World On Fire
  • Crossfade – We All Bleed
  • TesseracT – One
  • Redlight King – Something For The Pain
  • Egypt Central – White Rabbit
  • Daughtry – Break The Spell
  • Disturbed – The Lost Children
  • Megadeth – Th1rt3en
  • James Durbin – Memories of a Beautiful Disaster
  • Casting Crowns – Come To The Well
  • Stealing Eden – Truth In Tragedy
  • Drought – Untapped
  • In Flames – Sounds Of A Playground Fading
  • Plan Three – The Signal Part 1 (EP)
  • Seether – Holding Onto Strings Better Left To Fray
  • Reckless Love – Animal Attraction
  • Protest The Hero – Scurrilous
  • Rev Theory – Justice

So without any real web presence the decks were stacked against Cervello from the outset. What could have they done different?

They needed to provide a digital service to their fans. Music is a business and it needs to be treated like a business. Each band needs to compete against other bands for listeners attention.

What was the plan for the album? What was the plan if the album exploded? What was the plan if the album didn’t explode? How would they define if the album was a success? Would it be sales, likes on Facebook, YouTube views or Spotify Streams. Would it be attendances at live shows?

What was the plan for their online presence? Who will maintain it constantly, who will measure it and who will improve it? What was their Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy and marketing campaigns?

They released their album in October 2011 and by 2013 it was all over. They were formed in 2008 by Michel Baioni (vocals/guitars) and his brother Antonio Baioni (drums). 

They joined Facebook in May 2009. It wasn’t until June 2012 that Twitter was synced up with their Facebook posts.

Anyway they only had two Facebook posts in 2009.

Then on January 26, 2010, they posted that they are sound checking at Cosmos Studios and two days later they are recording drums for their debut album. WHY is the question? Based on their presence online, what demand was there for a debut album? Did they use their MySpace metrics for that decision? Was it their record labels decision?

Next Facebook post happened in April 13, 2010, with a preview of the new single. It only got six likes and 1 comment. Again, this should have been ringing alarm bells within the band. 

Next Facebook post was on July 1, 2010. It said that the band had finally started mixing the album and that it sounds awesome and that the band can’t wait for the fans to hear it. That post got 3 likes and 1 comment.

Hearing that album in 2013, it is a great sounding album, however the lack of fan interaction with the band should have told them that the strategy of releasing 10 songs at once was all wrong. We live in a singles world. Look at Gotye. He is living off the sales of one song.

Then on July 8, 2010 they posted another post in Swedish, that more or less said something like “We know that we have not been heard from much recently, however we are far from dead and that during the spring they recorded their debut album.” 6 likes and no comments. Again, fan engagement was minimal. 

On September 7, 2010 they posted a message saying that they are supporting Ed Kowalczyk the following day. WOW. They are playing a show the next day and are promoting it a day before.

You get the drift of their social media presence, which is a shame as they really delivered a great slab of music, that should have been released differently and marketed with a strategy.

If a band wants to have their name out there, they need to get it out there themselves. The record label is not interested and it doesn’t know how to break a band in this age. If the labels knew anything about the internet, they would have signed up the Napster technology instead of taking up arms against it.

Any new album’s form the entry point to everything else. Any album that has legendary producer/writer Max Martin as a co-writer for ‘Cause I Am’, and John 5 from Rob Zombie as a co-writer on ‘First Time’ deserves more attention.

It’s a shame that Cervello didn’t hold it together. The modern music paradigm is to create great music now and expect to be paid for it much later in the future. However to capitalise on it, you need to remain together. You need to outlast the competition.

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A to Z of Making It, Music

Social Media is Not Just About The Broadcast – What Dream Theater can be doing better compared to other bands?

Dream Theater is all about the advertisement/broadcast. Look at their Facebook account and it is all about the sell. This is expected as they have a new product and they are trying to push it. However, have they spent any time reading, listening or understanding what their fans are saying? The fans are the best advocates and for some reason bands are not realising it.

Compare what Dream Theater is doing to what Robb Flynn is doing for Machine Head with The General Journals: Diary Of A Frontman… And Other Ramblings. He is engaging with his fan base through personal stories. Of course they still have the sell aspect going on for their Mayhem shows and no one is expecting the artist to stop the sell. The difference is those personal touches and stories.

Compare what Dream Theater is doing to what Randy Blythe from Lamb Of God is doing on Instagram. He takes unbelievable photos and the stories he shares with those photos via Instagram is all about engagement with people. There is no sell here. It is authentic and heartfelt. This is pure gold.

Compare to what Dream Theater is doing to what Trivium is doing on Facebook. Both bands have the same label and both have albums coming out within a month apart. Trivium had the official download of the song Brave This Storm (it was just one post and the post was called Transmission #2) and then it has all been fan and band pictures posted from various shows. Dream Theater have plugged the new song post after post after post. We get it, you have a new song.

Also when Dream Theater had the corporate deal with USA Today to stream the song, a lot of their fans from other parts of the world couldn’t listen to it. Of course that problem was fixed within a couple of days and then Dream Theater started re-posting links for the song.

I recently posted that the years of when artists took a year to make an album and went on a two to three year victory lap are over. The artists that still take a year to make an album in this current climate are doing themselves a great disservice as they will have an album that is basically dead on arrival. The faithful will buy the album and then the victory lap is over.

It looks like the bigger the network around a band, the less they focus on fan engagement. Bands or artists cannot expect to use their social media accounts only when it suits them, just because they have a product to push or a song to push and expect that the fans will remain engaged.

A perfect example is Metallica, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden or Bon Jovi. Dream Theater is trying to play in this field, however they don’t have the runs on the board to play against Metallica or Bon Jovi.

Bands with better runs on the board than Dream Theater like Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown, Halestorm, Lamb Of God, Sixx A.M, Kid Rock and Stone Sour are still looking at ways to engage with their audience on different levels. Don’t focus on how many followers or likes you have. It’s all about connections and trying to make those connections bring value to the relationship.

Bands like Metallica and Bon Jovi use PR agencies to run their social media accounts. Of course the whole business model of the PR company is the less is more model and to have total control over the message. This is in contrast with the social principles of giving out as much information and seeing what connects and what misses.

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