For blind people to regain the power of sight usually requires a miracle – either of the old-fashioned, Biblical variety or of the modern, medical sort.
Yet an extraordinary case reported this week shows us that there may be another form of miracle that can help the blind to ‘see’ – and it’s one that may force us to rethink our whole understanding of the way in which the human senses operate.
In the journal Current Biology it is reported that a man left totally blind by brain damage has astounded scientists by flawlessly navigating an obstacle course without any help or practice whatsoever.
This is perhaps the most persuasive example to date of what is termed ‘blindsight’ – the extraordinary ability of some who have lost their vision to be able to ‘see’ without, apparently, any ability actually to receive images in the eye and brain at all.
Because blindsight is a nebulous concept, often linked to paranormal manifestations, it has often been dismissed by researchers as myth. Yet here was a case that defied any straightforward explanation.
Scientists at the University of Tilburg in The Netherlands found that the unnamed man, known only as ‘TN’, was able to negotiate his way past a series of boxes and chairs, despite the fact that a series of strokes had damaged the visual cortex of his brain to such an extent that tests have shown he is completely blind.
So how on earth does he do it? What does it tell us about the way we ‘see’ the world?
And is it conclusive proof, as many have claimed, that humans have a hidden ‘sixth sense’ that can detect aspects of the world around us in a way that defies any logical explanation?
The first thing to realise is that science loves to categorise things. We have ‘five senses’ in part because ‘five-and-a-bit senses’ is messy and ‘ unscientific’.
And yet it may be a far more accurate description of what is going on in the complex interface between the outside world and our brains.
It seems that in the case of TN, for example, although he has no conscious awareness of the visual world, his brain is, somehow, keeping tabs on his surroundings, by processing the electrical messages that are travelling through his eyes and optic nerves (which remain undamaged by his stroke) even though the normal ‘visual’ part of his brain is damaged beyond repair.
To use a scientific term, his mind is not creating any visual ‘qualia’ – the name given to conscious experience of sensations, such as sight or sound.
Although he is not actually aware of the cause, scans have even revealed that certain parts of his brain, not normally associated with sight, ‘light up’ when he is shown pictures of other people pulling a variety of different facial expressions – such as fear, anger or joy.
This weirdness should perhaps not surprise us. Our senses form part of the most mysterious system in the known universe – the human brain.
Indeed, compared to the kilogram of grey jelly in your skull, even the mightiest stars and galaxies hold few mysteries.
Anyone who claims they know how the brain works, or exactly what is going on when our eyes view a splash of red, or our noses scent a whiff of coffee, or our tastebuds pick up on a tang of brine, is simply deluded or lying. Despite centuries of probing, such mysteries remain totally unsolved.
We do know, however, that there are a number of peculiar anomalies.
For example, we know that humans, compared to other animals, have extremely good vision – on a par with the birds and far better than most mammals. Sight is our primary sense.
Yet, rather mysteriously, it is another sense – smell – which in many of us has the ability to evoke the strongest emotional responses.
Shown a photograph of our old primary school, say, most of us will respond with a vague sense of recognition.
In contrast, even the merest hint of the smell of the school’s polished parquet floors, or of the heady tang of boiled cabbage from the school dinner kitchens, will be enough to bring all the childhood memories flooding back.
Equally mysteriously, our senses seem to operate on several levels. If you are sitting down when you read this article, think for a moment of the sensation coming from your bottom and lower back.
The moment you do, you will become suddenly aware of the pressure of the seat cushion below you, the contours of its shape and how comfortable (or uncomfortable) it is.
In psychological terms, you are now ‘attending’ to these sensory inputs.
Yet before you chose to swivel your ‘mind’s eye’ to the chair, you were probably completely unconscious of all these sensations, even though the relevant one of the your five senses – touch – was working all the while.
Then there is a well-known psychological phenomenon called the ‘cocktail party effect’.
This is the ability of the human brain to detect, immediately, pertinent and important information from an otherwise meaningless sensory melange.
If you are at a busy party, for instance, you will probably be aware only of the random babble and hum of voices. Yet should someone mention your name, even quietly and from across the room, the chances are that you will immediately pick up on it.
It is as though you have an unconscious monitor sitting inside your head – a ‘little man’, if you will – checking what is coming in from your eyes and ears and so forth, before deciding which is important-and letting your conscious mind know.
Of course, the idea of a little man inside your head is an absurd (but remarkably persistent) analogy – but it does serve to illustrate the fact that our brains operate on all sorts of levels of conscious awareness, and not always in ways that we recognise.
Think of the last time you drove to work, for instance, or did the school run. How conscious were you, actually, of the journey? How many of the twists and turns can you remember?
The chances are that the answer is ‘none at all’; you probably were able to operate, quite safely, a complex piece of machinery (a car) almost like you were an unthinking robot while you were thinking about something more interesting. Extraordinary.
The interaction between the ‘mind’ and the senses really is one of the most amazing aspects of the natural world.
And since we cannot be sure how it works, it does seem foolish to dismiss, out of hand, ‘sixth sense’ phenomena such as blindsight.
It is probably even the case that we should not rush to dismiss, completely out of hand, even stranger ‘paranormal’ mental powers, such as telepathy, even though hard scientific evidence is lacking for such things.
The only certainty is that the more we learn about the workings of the mind, the more fantastical its abilities are proving to be.
A wonder device can see the soul of a dead man pass away… or at least that’s what the inventor claims.
A publication of the popular Russian tabloid Life.ru gives a dramatic account of the experiments of an inventor from St Petersburg, who has created a device able to see human aura.
Accompanied by pictures suspiciously reminiscent of a series of thermal images of a woman at different temperatures, the report claims they are made with a special “gas discharge camera” built by Konstantin Korotkov, a professor at the Research Institute of Physical Culture and State University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics.The paper goes on to say that the device can register the circumstances of death, differentiating between a victim of a violent crime and a person who died quietly in bed. It also registers the changes in aura presumably made by a strong psychic working on somebody.Disregarding the glib comparison of the religious term “soul” with the new age “aura”, the claims – they can hardly even be expected to get support in peer-reviewed scientific papers in our opinion – prompted RT to take a little investigation into the wonder device.
The instrument, which was presented to us as something involved in the study of death, turned out to have been designed as a medical diagnosis tool. With about 15 years of development behind it, its inventor claims that it’s an affordable early-diagnosis tool, capable of identifying any disease, from an ulcer to a brain tumor, by scanning irregularities in an aura. Sort of a spiritual healer in metal and plastic, available to everyone for a small fee. No mystical stuff here – a patient can see his own aura on the computer screen, all thanks to the “gas discharge visualization” or GDV.
The spiffy name is actually modern application of a well-known phenomenon called Kirlian effect, named after Semyon and Valentina Kirlians, a Russian couple who greatly contributed to popularizing it back in 1960s. Kirlian experimented with photographing objects with high voltage applied to them.
The strong electric field causes faint corona discharges around the edges, which can even be seen with the naked eye. The visual appeal of the effect won the hearts of mystic-oriented people.
Starting with Kirlians themselves, many people claimed that the electrical phenomena was actually a way to visualize otherwise invisible auras of objects. Korotkov is one of these claimants. According to him, corona discharges around fingertips, which his GDV cameras cause, have information about one’s physical condition and this information can be used for diagnosis. The claim was never confirmed by clinical tests, but it didn’t prevent the device from becoming the cornerstone of a widespread business. With different models costing from $4,500 to $13,000, and official dealers all across Russia and abroad, the invention seems to generate enough cash for Korotkov to travel the world and promote his product.
Not for diagnosis
Meanwhile, critics openly call the GDV “quackery”. Back in 2002, when the device drew the attention of the Russian media, RTR TV channel (now called Rossiya) did an investigation of their own, producing a 20-minute-long report. They revealed that, in the testing of a GDV scanner done in the Military Medical Academy, one of the strong-points trumpeted by the producer was actually its ability to kill bacteria on hands, which it successfully did. It was never used for diagnosis of any kind.
Another selling point – the testing of the device on Russian sportsmen – showed that readings of the device may vary slightly with the state of mind of the subjects. As it does with variations in the environment, like a change of air temperature or humidity.
In an interview given to a newspaper two years ago Korotkov said his invention was like a knife: it could be used for good or for bad purposes. Indeed, the beautiful Kirlian effect can be used for dubious intentions, or for inspiring works of art like those of photographer Robert Buelteman here.
Being new to the music industry is not always the easiest time in an artist’s life, working hard to write songs, record and getting noticed. This doesn’t always have to be a hard process and as long as you have the first two perfected the third will be easy. To help give you that extra advantage in the start of your music career there are 5 easy ways to help spread your music across the globe.
1. Start Local – Hit the local areas first, visits local bars and pub to see if you can get yourself a small gig. At this point in your career don’t worry about the money, it’s always good to have but this shouldn’t be a factor when deciding where to gig. Start of small and work up to bigger venues, if you know someone that does have a small bar that would like some live music you could offer your talents for free as a tester to help give you more exposure to other local bars.
2. Freebies – Everyone loves something free; get yourself some CD’s printed that you can give away at the gigs that you do at the start of you career. These can be easily obtained from a CD duplication company and on a variety of disc sizes with custom printed discs. Always keep some of these with you in your usual daily life, visit local pubs, bars and clubs to see if they want a copy to play.
3. Online – The online world is always growing and it offers simple and easy ways to get yourself noticed. YouTube has always been a very popular sites for new artists but as the site becomes more popular more videos are being uploaded. The daily upload is so high that it is impossible to watch everything that has been uploaded to YouTube in 1 day. Most recent stats show that 60 hours of video are uploaded every minute and although this is high you should still use it but should not focus all you attention to this site.
Outreach to music website and music blog, this is where you will get the most appreciation from what you create, make sure the website is relevant to your type of sound and you can also use the CD’s you purchased in the stage above as a gift for adding a track and something about you to their website.
4. Friends – Where would you be without them? At home drinking and playing games is usually a common answer. Friends are always going to be there to help you in whatever you want to do so get them to help spread you talent to their friends and people they meet. You will get your chance to thank them and pay them back later on in your career. While you are doing all of the above your friends will grow and you will get more exposure from this.
5. Social – Facebook and Twitter are great for keeping you audience up to date. If you don’t already have these setup get yourself one now, Facebook page about you and your music and a twitter account for your music as well. I have many pages on Facebook and would advise on not connecting these as the Facebook messages are much longer than what twitter can post. Using these networks and even putting some money in to Facebook advertising can really help, start will a small campaign to get your page likes up and link your page to your music.
Following the above you will get much more exposure and your music will spread across the globe faster than it is currently doing. Everyone has a talent and this will help others find and appreciate yours.
Daniel Marriott lives in the UK and spends most of his spare time reading blogs and increasing his knowledge of everything. Spending most of his life with Drummers, Singers and Guitaristshttp://hyipinvestigation.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Top5logo.jpgDaniel enjoys helping others within the industry to grow.
5 Ways Musicians Can Benefit From Google Glass[es]
P.txtLove ‘em, hate ‘em, it doesn’t matter. Google Glass or Glasses, depending on what suits, are going to be part of your reality. Welcome to a wearable technology that will have unexpected effects on the world of music. But musicians and music pundits aren’t waiting for the actual tech to arrive as you can see from the following bit of paranoia plus 5 ways musicians can benefit.
Google Glass is ushering in a strange and disturbing world in some respects. Yet they also fit a time when most folks are happy to create self-surveillance databanks via Facebook and related networks while disregarding the government’s increasing data collection in the name of security.
The MusicTechPolicy blog’s paranoid cop vision seems relatively on target:
“I always said that the last frontier for Google would be to find a way to monetize human conversations–not only can they do that with Google Glass, but they can now send human drones in to your shows to record your songs and have them up on the Internet before your last encore whether you like it or not. Not legally, of course, but when has that ever stopped Google when they can send in the mob?”
Yet, given the move to livestreaming and related options, I think there’s a more positive and proactive approach available to performers but that’s your call, dear reader.
In addition to getting your fans to create live concert videos, as bands are already doing with Switchcam, CrowdSync and Vyclone, here are some ways to turn your music tech terror frown upside down:
1) Google Glass commercials have provided placements for songs by The Kissaway Trail and Bibio.
2) The commercials and concept have led to such YouTube videos as aukelele cover of Bibio’s “Lover’s Carvings”, a “Song About Google Glass”and a disorienting “First Person Music Video”.
3) Alex Guthrie applied for the first release of Google Glass with plans for the Alex Guthrie Google Glass Tour 2013. We’ll soon know if he’s one of thelucky 8000 chosen in the first round.
4) DJ Pauly D ain’t waiting for an official release when a knockoff pair for a music video can get him some quick publicity.
5) And, though the RjDj app is no longer available, the bone conduction sound tech of Google Glass should open up new possibilities for mixing personal and environmental sounds.
So whether you choose despair or positive action either way somebody’s gonna be watching you.
Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at All World Dance: Videos and maintains Music Biz Blogs. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.
Yeah, I know, there is a lot of debate and it is already an old hat for most musicians, who read constantly about the liberation of the independent music from the gatekeepers (‘Fuck the gatekeepers’ is more hyperbole than ‘viral’ now) and that they can go out and do it alone, without the help of major labels.
Nobody, however, has come up with a satisfactory description of what being an independent musician in the digital age entails.
It’s a cool name, but what does it mean? I reckon, the more you use a word without knowing what it is, the more the word becomes an obsolete and lifeless symbol for everyone.
There is a class of not so imperceptible attributes than define the term Musicpreneur.
In this essay, I will attempt to adumbrate those attributes, because I strongly believe we’ll see them get amplified in the future.
As you see, I don’t mention radio, TV, licensing or advertisements and traditional media. The reason is because I think they won’t matter in the future. Yeah, right. All of them won’t matter. Talk to me if you have strong doubts, got my contact details at the end.
Plus, this is not a ‘how-to’ guide, but merely a well-organized overview of the tasks involved in being a modern DIY artist. On purpose, I will break it down to parts, so it doesn’t tire you. This is the first out of three parts.
Every band, like every business, needs some assets before being in a position to create beautiful things and capitalize for profit. These mechanisms or assets are essential, because without them you won’t go far – or at least you cannot be called a professional.
Most DIY bands have no idea what these assets are all about, as labels traditionally were taking care of them, keeping the bands aloof. Of course, that meant that bands who followed an independent route, after being for some time in a major label, the majority had no sense of business and how to manage their fans, thus got swamped.
We have no tangible clues about what I’m stating, but the new generation of indie musicians will be well trained on that area. Friction brings inevitable results and experience. All self-made individuals will support my previous argument I guess.
Let’s go and divide those assets into 2 categories.
This is the hated part. Most musicians can’t stand it. Makes sense, who wants to talk about funnels and leads? You’re indie though, somebody has to, if you want this professional image to go further and bring some money to sustain you and refuel your art.
Some of the things you have to do is:
Organize business funnel. Whenever someone decides to buy from you, they follow a specific road from decision till the checkout (even later on, in the follow-up part). Afterwards, these individuals will engage with you and eventually will buy more expensive products, becoming part of your business funnel. These procedures need to be organized, automated and supervised by a skilled individual, who could be a member of the band with modern business knowledge.
Sustainable business model. This is how you make money.
“A business model encompasses how a firm creates value, how it delivers that value to customers, and how it captures revenue from those customers.”
is what Saul J. Berman’s definition is. Will you choose to rely on digital downloads, apply the freemium model or be an entirely touring band? It’s up to you. There are so many business models, you have to pick the right one for you, one that primarily suits your artistic integrity. The strategist that will make the decision has to be flexible in his mindset, and, preferably, a band member. This strategy will determine a lot how your band moves around.
Schedule planning. Somehow you have to stick around with your goals and responsibilities. That’s where scheduling your actions comes in handy. A detailed, short-term schedule (3-months) can give you things to do and keep you one step ahead. There has to be a long-term plan as well, but it’s wise to keep it flexible. Long future can neither be predicted, nor scheduled or controlled. Keep it flex, but know where you want to go. Think of it like a mountain pick you always have in sight. This has to be something the whole band decides and is comfortable with.
Manage logistics. Boring stuff, but someone has to do it. Logistics is the management of your money, your income, expenses, common pool and so on. A good reason to fight for, so you’d better be clear with this kind of issues from an early stage. If you start now, you won’t have much work to do with logistics (you’ll only have expenses, which is normal, and no-one fights over who’s gonna pay the bills first!), but when you start getting a real business going, then the skills of a trusted individual will be handy. Member of the band or not, the person has to be trusted.
Manage lead collection. People who are interested in your music and take some minor action that allows them to be in your radar (and be marketed too), are called leads. That could be a person who subscribes to your mailing list or becomes a fan in one of your social media profiles. They are visible now, you can market directly to them. Whoever comes up with the business model and takes care of the business funnel, this is the best person to take care of the lead generation (the way and strategy you’ll use to increase these aforementioned numbers).
Growth/metrics. This is a daunting task, in terms of finding the right metric(s) to set as the primary measurement of success. It all depends on the business model. If you choose freemium, you have to focus on capturing emails. The problems start when you focus on the goals and forget the art or the innovation. My suggestion: if you can maintain clarity of mind and can separate your creative and entrepreneurial sides, then take care of this task. If not, a third individual can do the work and report to you, and their information will be less emotionally attached to what you do.
If you hire a manager, this could person could be in charge to synchronize and arrange the details of the business side. It’s good to have full control, but, if you’re not that skilled, trust – and pay – another individual to do so. Will take you a long way.
2. Design/Web Presence
The more the world’s listeners, consumers, creators pass the torch to the new generation, the so called ‘digital natives’ (me included), the more prominent it will be to have a completely clear view about web development and online stuff in general. Hop in now, it has started years ago, it’s not a trend anymore.
Understand design. Web design, and design in general, is not an easy task. It’s got its own fundamentals, principles and gravity. Most artists reckon it’s alright to do it by yourself if you have a basic sense of aesthetics, but it’s not. An amateur design lacks a logical sequence and has a ceiling in terms of its capabilities. Full potential of design expression can only be imprinted by a professional who understands your needs. Find the right person to take over, or work hard to learn yourself. Design is another form of art, not just a deed.
Take care of branding. This is where you inject your identity in your design and approach. A brand marks its territory and stands out in the era of noise. Branding is a big chapter in the digital world’s economy, as it subconsciously moves the population to lean towards and associate with specific products, causes or organizations. Art can take advantage of it, by infusing the branding elements in the final result, without hurting art itself. That needs to be done by a person who understands how branding works, preferably one who has design knowledge, in association with the band itself, who knows who they are and what they want to be perceived. Strong identity has to be translated into a strong brand.
Create graphics and logo. Part of the procedure of branding is the creation of graphics and a memorable logo. This is what web visitors encounter every time they see you around. Website, social media, interviews, posters, all convey messages about you. You need to have a continuous message, through branded graphics and a logo that marks your values and point of view. No matter how insignificant this might sound, having a pro take care of your image, including design, branding and graphic representation of your band, can have vital and perennial results.
Knowledge of web development. Seems that the majority of musicians are inclined towards the technical side of the web, so there always seems to be a skillful web developer in the team. If this is the case for you, great. You got your problem solved. If not, you definitely need an individual to maintain the servers and develop your website. Don’t forget, it’s your 24/7 ambassador for every country in the world. Just like your physical presence, it needs to convey the right message and inspire your character to the visitors.
SEO work. You won’t see advice about ‘getting in the first page of Google in 3 days’ here. The principle is simple: search engines go where real humans go. Keep that in mind. If you bring value to the online community, then people will notice and follow. Why do you need to be in the search results anyway? In the era of total transparency we live in, search engines are perceived to be authorities in any topic. Ranked first in this topic, I will trust you! And, anyways, you don’t want to appear second when someone types your band’s name. It doesn’t show credible. Find someone to know and let them help you, or do it yourself. No need for a professional here.
Update website. There’s nothing worse than a website that has not been updated for months. This can hurt your image a lot, as it seems you either neglect it (bad) or have no news at all (worse). The person who will do all this has to be part of your band, or really close to it, so they can come up with curated and interesting content. Necessary skill is Content System Management knowledge. With a platform like WordPress, things are not so difficult.
Manage online platforms. Whether you use Bandcamp, Topspin, Shopify or a simple eCommerce plugin for WordPress, this platform with your products, music, free goodies and services has to be managed and supervised constantly by someone. If you have active business experience, customer service is valued more than the service itself. This task also involves shipping orders, monitoring metrics, troubleshooting. Make sure everything’s in order. The individual needs to have experience on multiple platforms, so you can choose the right one according to your needs and level.
Some artists wanted to hear more about the subject, so here’s part #2.
In the first part of the Rise of the Musicpreneur, I highlighted the business and online assets a modern music artist should take care of.
Today, I will touch upon the practical side of the topic. It has to do with the agenda every artist should maintain in regards to Marketing, Live Performance, Creation and Fans.
II In the field
Once the automated system is ready and working in the backstage, doing all the dirty work for you, you can take care of the fun and creative side of the game: get your hands dirty.
The borderlines between promotion, live performances, viral marketing, art creation and fan engagement all intersect elegantly with each other, making it blur to say when each one starts or ends. Just like the various interracial blends we see nowadays because the geographical boarders have collapsed (mixed race people are beautiful, I think), the same happened with the connectivity offered by the world wide web.
New terms are created and the existing schemes get reshaped gradually. This inextricable connectivity and interdependency leads to one new pattern of artists to dominate in the future: the generation of musicpreneurs, who are polymaths and knowledgeable beyond the verge of their art.
The spine is the same, the tools and the execution change though. Let’s see the 4 categories I see in play.
Marketing your music doesn’t have to be that difficult and complicated in your mind. Have one thing in mind: labels sell to mass distribution channels and artists to fans. In other words, your goal is to find each fan and nurture them individually, building relationships, not mass market your music in iTunes and radio and Billboard.
Simple marketing principle: think where you can meet your fans and find the most simple way to reach them. Doing little things, one at a time, and cultivating a strong and supportive following, you can have big niche success. Have in mind: personalization is the way to break the mass culture.
Some of the modern responsibilities of the marketing guy of your band:
Press portfolio creation. The outlets that create buzz and build anticipation for indie musicians are the – equally independent – blogs. A musician wants to give great music to the world and the blogs want to suggest great music to the world: awesome marriage. However, nobody wants to feel sold out. Especially in the digital era, when everyone can become ‘friends’ with anyone, a more intimate relationship is valued more compared to the past. When I say build a portfolio, I mean build real trust with bloggers, so overtime you won’t have to send them Press Releases so they can ‘do you a favor’, but you will trust them with an exclusive and they will help you out to spread the word (sounds more beautiful, doesn’t it?). Plus, ‘in behalf of our clients…’ from a label doesn’t make bloggers salivate anymore. Play it personal and keep the contacts in house.
Music as a marketing tool. I’m a firm believer that recorded music will not be a revenue source in the future. Digital music will eventually become a commodity and commodified products tend to have zero market price. This is great news, you can use music to attract fans and make money with through other streams. What is the best way to get people to know about you? To be scattered around the web, so people can talk about you and stumble upon you! With the understanding of that, you need a person detached from the traditional marketing mindset, ready to experiment. This is the best time for inexperienced marketers with a basic understanding of marketing to make their experiments.
Follow up/Engagement. Do you think the circle is over after you make a sale? Nope. This is when the circle opens, and it’s up to you when it will be closed again, depending whether you neglect the fan/buyers or not. Old marketing stratagem: spend money on an advertising shower and see who we can get wet. New marketing stratagem: make the first sales, follow up and fuel the referral system to ‘clone’ your buyers. Needless to say, the more engaged you are with your fans, the more likely they are to refer to others, regardless if they buy or not. The person for this job has to be an insider, who understands the fans 100%, has social skills and is authorized to represent the band.
Experimentation for viral exposure. Everyone tries to find the magic formula for viral marketing, even more people are using this word, but the truth is: virality is so beautiful because it’s unpredictable to a large percentage. There are certain triggers that affect the mass culture and emotions that are more optimal to spread, but in reality you just play with uncertainty. That’s the definition of virality, you cannot target whom your message will reach, and that’s what a successful viral spread is. That also means that you have lots of space to experiment with small things, see whether they catch on, try some more and leverage the ones that really work! Find a creative individual who has knowledge of how the media work and what the triggers are and get started.
Manage mailing list. Permission Marketing by Seth Godin is the bible on this subject. Email seems to be the only evergreen way of communication – till I’m proven wrong – and it has the best conversion rates in terms of sales. The environment in social media favors meeting friends, not making sales. Email is a getaway to market directly to fans and be more hardcore, with their own permission. The person who gets in charge needs to understand the difference between ‘communicate’ and ‘spam’. My suggestion is that you keep this in house as well.
Spot the influencers. The strongest way of marketing today is through referrals. Dropbox grew this way, to name one business. Also viral marketing is exactly this: referrals. In the networked society of today, small niche superstars have popped up, having formed their own small and targeted armies, influencing groups of people that hear what they have to say. Getting endorsed by one of them is a key feature for your success. Go, show your social side and meet people. It will be better if your next release gets announced by multiple sources to targeted audience, don’t you think?
Live performance revenues are rising over the years, they are the most unique artistic expression, they unite like-minded people together… what else should I say to convince you that you have to take good care of it? Although most bands believe they’re entitled with a gig of 10-40 people in a shitty bar, there’s more than that, if you have the right skills or people to help along.
For a better live performance:
Lights engineering. Your show and music might be incredible, but in a live performance the lights can make a difference. Actually, after long conversations that I had with venue owners, they admit themselves: the show of bands without their own lights arrangement fluctuates between mediocrity and unoriginality (not talking about the music here). It’s high time you make the difference it a step forward. It’s probably pricey, I know. But making this sacrifice is wise, I reckon.
Live sound engineering. That’s a must-have person to be in your team. Music is what the audience is here about, cater it properly. A live sound engineer with experience can visualize the sound as it reflects on the walls and the bodies of the fans, making the proper arrangements to ensure the result is as big as your talent. Don’t be cheap on that.
Booking skills. I’m not a fan of booking small bars with zero context for any reason. A good venue would do, provided it gives you the ability to contextualize your experience and tailor it according to your needs. Places like that require good booking skills and connections. If you don’t have the right person to provide smart solutions – and close the deal for you – then think about hitting the road and getting things done yourself. With friction comes experience and success, it’s all about communication after all. A witty personality never fails, got experience on that. Internationally, go for local booking agents who are familiar with the local rules and peculiarities.
Promo material creation. This one probably goes for the person who will design your band’s branding. Promo material can have many different formats, from a simple cover photo on Facebook to a poster that hangs on the streetlights. Each one has a different visibility and approach, and an efficient designer needs to be aware of that.
Live photography. Do you have an individual to take pictures of your live show? You should. A proper photography can propel the perception about you and your artistry. Just go on a band’s website and check out the live pictures. You’ll notice some differences. See how they can increase the perception and likeability and choose to have an ingenious photographer with you. Money worth spending.
Video shooting. Ever done a live video shooting during your gigs? Well, not many bands do. Is it because they haven’t thought about it? No. In a visual world, enriching your news and media with well shot footage can increase your stock market price drastically and create a perception about you that can only be regarded as premium. This is what message you want to convey: premium and professional. With video footage of your performances you transcend the average level of the majority of the bands you’re in the same market with. Invest on it.
Except for the assets you need in order to get the engine running, you also need to fuel that engine with hi-quality art. This is the fun part. Time to create. Music composition is excluded from this list. You are the one who gets this done, here we’re talking about everything else surrounding your (awesome) songwriting.
Music video production. The sooner you understand the basic premise of the digital world, the faster results you’ll get. We live in a visual world. Period. We also live in a cluttered world where everyone needs attention. The more sensations you trigger, the better the chances for people to notice. Video is a standalone art, so you’d better approach it the same way. My advice: don’t shoot videos yourself, unless you really got the expertise. Otherwise, hire a professional who understands what your artistry is all about. Then let them do their job. Collaborate closely only on the context of the video, so it can always enhance your current branding.
Music production/mastering. There’s a weird perception around, that you need to have recorded music in order to get a proper fanbase. A quick counter-argument: YouTube stars and Bedroom artists. It’s the music ideas that count. However, a YouTube star will never be considered to be a professional. Because the versions of their songs might sound cool and raw, but the perception of quality is not there. Plus, a non-professionally-recorded music can never be considered to be a marketable product.
You need to work on that, so find a producer that understands your needs and vision. Mastering the same, the final end result needs to be the idealized version of your songs. Otherwise why record them in the first place? If you can get the job done in a home studio, go for it. If not, get a pro in your team.
Create unique products to incentivize. Think as a fan. How many times have you seen bands selling t-shirts, pins etc.? Boring, would you buy another t-shirt, especially if it’s not properly designed to be worn casually? Many bands sell t-shirts without knowing why (maybe because everybody’s doing so). Don’t think inside the box where you store the tees in. The purpose of a unique product is to incentivize the fan to buy it. It’s something that can make other people talk about it and the owner to feel special to have around. A handmade t-shirt? A USB-bracelet? A matchbox with your lyrics in it? You get it.
Think premium. Nobody talks (and cares) about usual products. The best way to do that is to collaborate with talented artists and work on something together. This will allow you to create products on demand, without having to stock your storage rooms with undesirable boxes that scream ‘sell me please!’ The old model ‘I stock the house and wait for people to buy’ is over.
Photography portfolio. Again, just to be clear. (1) It’s a visual world. (2) It’s all about the perception. Check out the difference between a picture shot by your iPhone and a professional and retouched picture. People consume more pictures every day and it becomes evident that you need to invest in it and make photography your flagship asset. I see two types of photography to use: static photoshoots that capture your branding and pictures from the band’s activities (studio, events etc.), so you can document your lifecycle beautifully. Good photography will make you stand out, take it seriously and leave it in the hands of a pro you trust.
Interaction brings creators and fans together, blurring the lines and destroying the superstar mystification around an artist. The era of ‘let the labels reach the fans for us’ is long over. Isn’t it obvious? Since disruptive advertising becomes more and more obsolete and people mute it wherever it appears, just like another ‘visual immune system’, creating an experience is the only way to get people on board.
Don’t disrupt, offer an experience they can talk about. They are your evangelists. And I don’t mention that because it’s a hot word to use in the hypey internet world, but due to its effectiveness in the real world. It’s all about the fans, and it’s vital that you have a person in the team that totally understands that.
Keeping that in mind, here are four things someone needs to take care of for a fan-oriented artist:
Prepare an insider experience. “There is a different value between seeing something as an insider, live, first and with the rest of the people”, I said a while back. The Direct-2-Fan model changed things. Being a consumer and buying the final product is not enough. This is why you need to create a unique experience for the inner circle of your fandom, your True Fans. This experience has to be representative of your real side. Exclusive authenticity in full disclosure is what you’re selling here. Many creative ways to do it, they could fill a book.
Manage the tribe of followers. When people devote time and money to you and your art, you have to be grateful. We live in an era with short attention spans and this is a blessing. You need to have an individual manage this small army. Preferably, that would be a member of the band itself, who gets the vibe of the ‘inside job’. The responsibility here is simple. Interact with them and treat them as human beings. Solve their problems and give them attention back. Time consuming, I know. That’s why many will laugh out loud, and only a few get rewarded by actually doing it. Again, read Seth Godin’s Tribes to find out the characteristics of a tribe.
Update online profiles. Your profiles represent your brand, your music, your character. A desert profile shows abandonment and, unfortunately, it counts negatively. Get lost for a long time and you’ll be forgotten. A consistent social media strategy needs to be designed and implemented by a savvy individual, who could be a marketing guy who is really close with your band. Hootsuite can help.
Creation of social objects. Social objects, as explained by Jyri Engestrom, are topics people care and talk about. It’s meaningful conversations to them. This only means one thing: you will get to know your fans better by starting conversations and discovering what they care about. And the fans you attract, your cult, they are probably part of who you are as well. Make it part of your mindset and daily checklist.
This is the last part of the 3-part series about the Musicpreneur. A link to the complete essay with all the parts and extra resources can be found at the end of the article.
III For the future
Somebody could say that we’re done. That the list is full. Almost.
The present is not all that counts; unless it points to something bigger in the future.
The past years I was working for NATO as an international military policeman. Last summer I decided to quit my job after 7 years of solid and educational experiences. All that because of my love for music.
During my transitional window to a full-time music devotee (active musician and marketing experimenter), I had a lot of time to dedicate and strong appetite to devour books that contained information outside the scope of the Music Industry, but indirectly connected with it.
And then it hit me.
There are bodies of knowledge involved in one’s music success that are not strictly affiliated with the narrow boundaries of the industry. They include knowledge of social behavior and neuromarketing, online and offline contextualization, the customer circle, virality triggers and contagion, communication skills and social objects, ethics and factors that influence decision making, the importance of branding, measurement of metrics and A/B split testing.
And it could be you – the future musicpreneur – that will need all that knowledge to move forward in the future economy of self-made entrepreneurial artists.
This section is devoted to (a small portion of) virtues and intangible assets that will differentiate you from the copycats out there.
Being good in tasks related to the music industry is not enough. You restrict yourself too much. At least this is how I see it; in order to be empowered to market your music and ensure the longevity of your brand, you need to develop skills outside the narrow spectrum of the music world.
While in the army, I started accumulating knowledge for fun, on topics that were linked with each other. And now it unfolded beautifully to me; this connectivity in the bodies of knowledge is the main reason I have this clear overview of the media world (which includes the music industry itself).
These are the bodies of knowledge I’m talking about:
Knowledge of social behavior. Professor Dan Ariely and his academic work showed me that rationality and irrationality are not so far away. That got me interested in investing more time to learn about social behavior, neuroscience and persuasion. Sociology can be quite revealing in terms of what drives people to do things and take actions, instead of speculate and stay idle. If you connect the dots, you will see patterns in the behavior of the crowd. Here are 3 resources to start with: Neuromarketing, Predictably Irrational, Influence. Also check out D. Ariely’s Coursera course called ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior’.
Social skills to meet the right people. The way I grow every single project that I start: I meet and talk with people 1-on-1, one person at a time. I devote time and energy to meet people personally, and that seems to be appreciated more than anything else. I put a face on my projects. First I contaminate a group of people with my ideas, then I start executing (and I always get full support). In an era where you can reach out to many people with a click, personalization is a lost art. Although we’re talking about simple human-to-human interaction, it seems enough to make you stand out from anyone else. Tommy’s advice, my fellow musician: don’t just go out and mingle with random individuals. Instead, devote time and energy to people you imagine working/collaborating together with and build a strong team. Social domain is always stronger than money.
Knowledge of marketing basics. If you hire someone to do the marketing job for you, you can cross this out and move on. If not, I only have one thing to say: learning the basic concepts of marketing is the single most wise thing you could invest on today to help yourself and get on the right pathway. Musicians that claim that ‘marketing is evil’ and ‘I don’t like selling out my art’ are full of pure, ignorant crap. Being able to speak the same language with the marketing bloggers or book writers you might read in the future is a big issue. A good way to start is through this interview with Danny Iny from Firepole Marketing I had a while back (sorry if the quality isn’t great).
Knowledge of virality triggers. Wharton marketing Professor Jonah Berger recently authored a book called Contagious, where he analyzes the main factors that make us share a piece of content. Why is this important for a musician? Because, in the digital era, viral marketing is equivalent to billboard advertising, but more fun and inexpensive than the latter. Having a good overview of those triggers can help you tailor your visual content strategically, so you can exploit this ‘viral craze’ that seems to be an integral part of the culture of the digital natives, maintaining your image all along the way.
Have a premium mindset. As I’ve mentioned before in MTT, abundant things – such as digital content – have insignificant market value. With sufficient volume, pop artists can play with small margins and still make profit. That’s the essence of the mass marketing model. This is what independent niche bands don’t have: big volumes. Hence we don’t belong to the $.99 market. Added scarce value, though, is something that could save the day – as it changes the perception for your art from a mass product to a premium product. This might sound controversial, but I got my ideas around the concept of premiumization from the luxury food industry (!) and J-N. Kapferer & V. Bastien’s book The Luxury Strategy. This unexploited mindset can be applied in music too. And I plan to be the first to do so. Do you know anyone who understands this concept? Invite him on your team.
No ‘Law of Attraction’ shit here. Whoever’s been around for a long time, they know it takes a strong stomach to succeed in the business world. And if you want to be a professional artist, you belong to this world by definition.
I’m a firm believer that not only you need to be a bright and skillful individual, but also a vibrant and original personality, in order to make things happen and not be put off by the losers who will challenge your ideas along your way for innovation and awesomeness.
The aforementioned virtues can be summarized as follows:
Abilities and courage of a leader. A successful team always owes part of the end result to the person who has the final say and directs the project towards a specific direction. Favorably, everyone will find their own expertise in the music ecosystem called ‘band’, ‘collective’ and so forth, but there is always a leader, a coordinator, an CEO taking decisions. In real life, I haven’t seen a single team deviate from such a structure. That person, though, is not just enjoying a prominent position. A leader does not affiliate with vanity. Instead, it’s the individual who gives courage and drives motivation. Such a charismatic person has weaknesses as well, but that’s part of the beauty, I reckon.
Clarity to maintain a forward thinking mindset. Times are demanding, attention is a vital asset and everybody wants to influence you. Too dramatic? Things might not be so bad, but one thing’s for sure: mental clarity and confidence are evergreen virtues that every forward-thinking persona needs. Cavett Robert mentions that 95% of the people are imitators, so it’s no surprise that only a few tend to see things from an innovative standpoint. No innovation in your blood means less likelihood that you accept the rapid technological and sociopolitical changes that occur nowadays. In a nutshell, my point of view: innovation goes along with inner peace and clarity.
Follow up the state of the music industry. Along with the other group of industries that swing in a transitional window of digitization or just experience their initial upswing (movies, books, magazines, mobile and apps), music industry is in a state of fluidity that doesn’t seem to stabilize soon. By definition that creates a lot of trends that unfortunately don’t seem to last. The only way to keep up with the current state and trends, so you can judge accordingly, is to be frequently informed by music news outlets that I mention in my Darker Toolbox. A few minutes a day can be a nice investment that will keep you up-to-date and alert.
Follow technological innovation. Music and technology are inextricably interwoven all along the human history. Technology affects the progress of music (I don’t know about vice versa), so it makes sense that you follow up with the latest news and break-throughs. Here is provided a list of technology blogs to follow. It’s not random that most musicians are savvy technology geeks, and this phenomenon of interdependency will only increase in the future. Be an early adopter and try out new ideas.
Vision for something big. We all know that how far we go with our plans depends on the ceiling we put ourselves. Things are getting more and more liberated – not necessarily democratized – for independent musicians to achieve great things. We’re just in the verge of a great musical future. However, if you keep yourself in the mercy of your fears of becoming great, you won’t go far. Time to take the piss out of another cliche expression: “This is the best time to be a musician; you can achieve everything you want without a label!”. And I say, “Yes, but also the audience has shorter attention spans and there is much more competition”. Unicorns are not real. Only the strong visionaries – along with all the aforementioned things in place – will achieve something exceptional and break the clutter.
‘There are three types of activities’, said Andrew Dubber in his recent Darker Music Talk, ‘the ones we’re good at, the ones we suck at and the ones we’re not good at, but we can see ourselves learning to do.”
Personally, I choose to do myself the first and invest time on the latter, while I delegate the work for the things that I suck at to professionals I personally trust and let them do their work without interference.
If you’re not ready to do all of the aforementioned things yet (and it makes sense that you can’t – don’t be a Superman), here’s how I’d suggest that you start with:
1. Start with great music. This is the absolute #1.
2. Build a portfolio of quality assets (recorded music, video, photos).
3. Invest in your branding (colors, vibes, logo, visuals).
4. Form your online presence (website, social media) and connect with fans.
5. Prepare an early ‘insider’ experience for your serious fans (starting with a mailing list and some exclusives).
6. Invest in a good live performance and document everything in it (video/photos, official and backstage). Avoid bars and other ripoffs.
7. Focus on getting people on board and strengthen the foundations of a real fanbase, one person at a time.
8. After you’ve built sizable assets, take a person no board to help you run and manage the business size of your art. Your assets will fuel that business.
Notice that till you reach step 7, you don’t need a manager or an enormous team behind you, and there is trivial risk involved.
As a conclusion, being a Musicpreneur may look daunting in the first glance, but it’s all a matter of organizing properly the information in your head after all. The more clear you have the overview of the modern music world in your head, the more likely you are to face the industry with confidence and fresh, innovative ideas.
This world does not only need more ‘working-class’ musicians, but also innovative Musicpreneurs who will change the shape of the music scene from within.
It might sound sonorous, but try not to laugh. Paraphrazing George Kolliopoulos, the man behind the first luxury olive oil in the world, who said “Lambda is the first olive oil in the world that is made out of books, not olive oil”, I say:
“The Musicpreneur is the first archetype of musician who will market their art utilizing bodies of knowledge outside the music industry”.
Living and breathing for that moment.
What do you think, did I miss anything from the list? Do you agree with my views?
The full article can be found here TommyDarker.com/Musicpreneur
I’m Tommy Darker, the writing alter ego of an imaginative independent musician. I started ‘Think Beyond The Band’ because I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished so far and I like helping other fellow musicians that struggle with the same problems.
PRODUCED BY PAUL CABIN .FROM MRNES UP COMING ALBUM THE BONEFACE..
Stop Keeping Score. Happiness is the True Measure of Success.
Too many people try to numerically measure success. Most of these numbers relate to wealth, age, intelligence, and seniority. The problem with trying to numerically calculate success is that it doesn’t account for personal feelings, thoughts, and general happiness. That which makes one person happy does not necessarily make everyone happy. Thus, the qualities that make one person successful do not automatically represent a universal measure for success.
As tragic as it is, you must keep in mind that some of the most famous, wealthy intellects fall victim to addictions and suicide. Why? Because even though these folks possess numerous quantifiable elements that society typically uses to measure success, nobody can accurately estimate how they truly feel about their personal lives.
Take away all the excess minutiae. You cannot be successful if you are unhappy, and happiness cannot be measured in numbers. It is impossible keep an accurate score of success when the game is based on personal feelings and beliefs. The key is to realize that success is multidimensional. Just because someone is visibly successful at something they do, does not always mean that they are successful in life as a whole.
To be truly successful you must never suck it up to being unhappy for extensive periods of time. Life is just too short for that kind of sacrifice.
There are a lot of skills you don’t need. You can be happy and successful without knowing how to rebuild a car’s engine, program a web application, or replace drywall. Sure, these are useful skills to have, but they aren’t absolutely necessary.
There are other skills, however, that can’t be avoided – skills that tie into various aspects of everyday life, that are not only useful, but totally indispensable. For instance, you can’t get far in today’s world without being able to read or write. And today the ability use a computer proficiently is simply assumed.
In this article we’re going to skip the super basic skills like reading, driving, and using a computer, and discuss twelve slightly more advanced skills that are woefully under-taught, and universally applicable. Let’s take a look…
1. Prioritizing and time management. – If success depends on effective action, effective action depends on the ability to focus your attention where it is needed most, when it is needed most. This is the ability to separate the important from the unimportant, which is a much needed skill in all walks of life, especially where there are ever increasing opportunities and distractions.
- 10 Time Management Tips that Work
- Time management and prioritization lessons from MindTools
- 12 Things Highly Productive People Do Differently
- Book: Getting Things Done
2. Keeping a clean, organized space. – Successful people have systems in place to help them find what they need when they need it – they can quickly locate the information required to support their activities. When you’re disorganized, that extra time spent looking for a phone number, email address or a certain file forces you to drop your focus. Once it’s gone, it takes a while to get it back – and that’s where the real time is wasted. Keeping both your living and working spaces organized is crucial.
- Decluttering Articles by Unclutterer
- Top 12 Organizing Tips and Resources
- Four Daily Routines: How I keep my house “clean enough”
- Book: The Joy of Less
3. Critical thinking and information analysis. – We are living in the information age where, on a daily basis, we are constantly exposed to an ever growing and rapidly changing pool of information. Being able to evaluate this information, sort the valuable from the trivial, analyze its relevance and meaning, and relate it to other information is a priceless skill with universal applicability.
- Ten Takeaway Tips for Teaching Critical Thinking
- A Simple Guide to Critical Thinking
- 10 Critical Thinking Traps and Tips
- Book: Thinking, Fast and Slow
4. Logical, informed decision making. – Decision making is simply knowing what to do based on the information available. Being able to respond quickly and effectively with the information you have in your head is essential to accomplishing anything.
- Don’t Overthink It: 5 Tips for Daily Decision-Making
- 13 Ways to Quickly Improve Your Decision-Making
- Geek to Live: Four ways to make a big decision
- Book: Smart Choices: A Practical Guide to Making Better Decisions
5. Using Google proficiently for online research. – You don’t have to know everything, but you should be able to quickly and painlessly find out what you need to know. Google is a gateway to nearly infinite knowledge; it has indexed websites containing information on just about everything and everyone. If you’re having trouble finding something using Google, it’s time to learn a few new tricks.
6. Basic accounting and money management. – It’s a simple fact that our modern society is governed by the constant exchange of money. Money allows you to maintain a roof over your head and put food on the table each night. Knowing how to properly manage your money – tracking and recording your expenses and income, saving and investing – is not only an important skill for thriving, it’s an important skill that helps you survive.
- 10 Steps to Making a Financial Budget
- How To Make a Budget that Works
- Quick MBA – Financial Accounting 101
- Book: The Total Money Makeover
7. Effective communication and negotiating. – Give the people in your life the information they need rather than expecting them to know the unknowable. Don’t try to read other people’s minds, and don’t make other people try to read yours. Most problems, big and small, within a family, friendship, or business relationship, start with bad communication. Speak honestly, and then give others a voice and show them that their words matter. And remember that compromise and effective negotiating are vital parts of effective communication.
- 9 Steps to Better Communication Today
- Win-Win Negotiation – Finding a fair compromise.
- Active Listening – Hear what people are really saying.
- Book: People Skills
8. Relaxation. – Stress leads to poor health, poor decision-making, poor thinking, and poor socialization. So be attentive to your stress level and take short breaks when you need to. Slow down. Breathe. Give yourself permission to pause, regroup and move forward with clarity and purpose. When you’re at your busiest, a brief recess can rejuvenate your mind and increase your productivity. These short breaks will help you regain your sanity, and allow you to reflect on your recent actions so you can be sure they’re in line with your goals.
- 10 Relaxation Techniques To Reduce Stress On-the-Spot
- Finding the Relaxation Exercises that Work for You
- 37 Stress Management Tips
- Book: Wherever You Go, There You Are
9. Proficient writing and note-taking. – The written word isn’t going away; it is used in every walk of life. Learning to write proficiently so that others can understand you is critical. Also, using your writing skills to take useful notes is one of the most productive things you can do, regardless of the task at hand. Writing things down – taking notes – helps us remember what we hear, see, or read when we’re learning something new, or trying to remember something specific.
- 34 Writing Tips That Will Make You a Better Writer
- English Grammar 101
- Top 5 Note-Taking Tips
- Book: On Writing Well
10. Relationship networking. – In a world dominated by constant innovation and information exchange, relationship networking creates the channel through which ideas and information flow, and in which new ideas are shared, discussed and perfected. A large relationship network, carefully cultivated, can be leveraged to meet the right people, find jobs, build businesses, learn about new trends, spread ideas, etc.
- How to Network: 12 Tips for Shy People
- Steps to Easy Relationship Building
- Networking: Start Building Real Relationships
- Book: How to Win Friends and Influence People
11. Positivity. – Research shows that although we think that we act because of the way we feel, in fact, we often feel because of the way we act. A great attitude always leads to great experiences. People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times. Be positive, smile, and make it count. Pretend today is going to be great. Do so, and it will be.
- How to Be Optimistic – Focus on the Positive
- 10 Ways Happy People Choose Happiness
- Seven Simple Ways to Be More Positive
- Book: The How of Happiness
12. Self-discipline. – Self-discipline is a skill. It is the ability to focus and overcome distractions. It involves acting according to what you think instead of how you feel in the moment. It often requires sacrificing the pleasure and thrill for what matters most in life. Therefore it is self-discipline that drives you to succeed in the long-term.
- How to Build Self-Discipline
- Self-Discipline Explained and Explored
- 12 Things Successful People Do Differently
- Book: Unleash the Warrior Within
What did we miss? What are some other useful life skills that are universally applicable? Leave a comment below and let everyone know.
Photo by: Zack Schnepf