Communication Skills 101

While this blog is called TheMusicSnob, I’m usually pretty nice to people and things in my posts. At the same time, I do have a degree in English, and so occasionally I find someone’s use of it so offensive that I just gotta mention it.

I’ve got a contact form on this blog and occasionally people write me. Most of the time they are extremely nice and are just looking for the chance at some exposure, a review or something like that. Sometimes I’m a total d-bag and forget to write them back. If that happened to you, I’m sorry, I haven’t forgotten, it’s just that I have like 52,397 jobs and haven’t gotten around to it. Anyway, the people that offend my English sensibilities are those that write me asking for something and can’t be bothered to even write in near-complete sentences, and offer zero explanation of why I should bother spending my time to essentially do free research for you.

Case in point. Today I get an email that states:

“I need some info on getting my artist song s on ring tones to make money for the company”

That’s it. Let’s look at what information we don’t get:

  • Who is this guy?
  • What “company” is he talking about?
  • Who’s this artist, and why should we care about him?
  • Why was he so incapacitated that he couldn’t write us a proper note?
  • Why should I care about this guy?

I’m all for helping people. But if you can’t bother to address any of these basic points, then don’t expect too much. I hope this guy isn’t approaching clubs, labels, producers, etc. with this communications strategy.

peace and harmony,

The Snob

Zimbalam Challenges Tunecore

I was browsing some music blogs when I saw an article on Hypebot about a service called Zimbalam. This company is basically a flat-fee digital music distributor like Tunecore. The key differentiator seem to be cost (Zimbalam) is cheaper than Tunecore, and allegedly won’t charge you the annual fee after year 1 unless your royalties on the albums they’ve distributed are adequate enough to cover the costs.

This is interesting to me because back in 2008 I wrote a post explaining why I was distributing my latest release with Tunecore and not CD Baby. One of the main factors for me was that I didn’t want someone taking a % of my royalties, so I preferred the flat fee. But now I’m wondering, will I have to pay their annual maintenance fee into perpetuity just to keep my music on iTunes? What if my descendants in 2248 want to download my music? Will I have had enough music sales over the previous 240 years to justify keeping my music active on Tunecore? I doubt it…Also, I’m not sure if by not renewing with Tunecore your music is actually taken off of iTunes, etc or just taken off the servers at Tunecore. In either case, I’m not sure how you’d get paid, since Apple isn’t going to start mailing you checks if you stop paying Tunecore’s annual fee.

Anyway. Check out Zimbalam. I’d love to hear from people with experience using it. I’ll try to do some actual reporting on it soon.


Human Beings Detected!

I just got off the phone with Rick O’Neal, a friendly staffer from Nimbit. A few weeks ago I set up a free account with them so I could use their embeddable Online Merch Table (OMT), to sell my music directly to people from my various websites.

A Real Voice on the Phone

Though I usually just stare at unknown phone numbers with fear, for some reason I bothered to answer the call and was surprised to find that Nimbit was calling to find out how my sales were going. I know it was a sales call, as they want me to upgrade my account and give them some money, but it’s also in their best interests that I sell as much music as possible through my Nimbit OMT.

Artistic Representation of Rick
Artistic Representation of Rick

Given that this is web-based technology, the last thing I expect is to have a human actually call me to talk about my Nimbit account, and address additional ways I can try marketing and selling my music. Given that my music hasn’t “taken off” and I don’t have any gigs scheduled, I probably won’t upgrade my account anytime soon. But it sure raises their cache in my eyes that they actually call their users. I can’t think of any web-based service that’s ever called me to see what’s up…

Just Because You’re Paranoid, Don’t Mean They’re Not After You…

A paranoid person might say that Nimbit called me knowing I write this little blog on music marketing technology, but my rational side tells me that this is wishful thinking.

So, nice work Nimbit. Hopefully you guys will have a smaller module available soon for embedding in sidebars…

Anyone else have any good or bad experiences with these guys?

Share the Wealth with Trendsetters – POPCUTS

There was a post yesterday on Techcrunch about a new site for selling your music online. Yay, we’ve all been hoping another would come along, right? Well, this one introduces a different model.

What is It?

Popcuts, as it’s called, shares revenue from each download with both artists AND fans. Fans who spot a hit song first stand to make more money, which in effect rewards music listeners for their taste in up-and-coming hits. The idea is to capitalize on the tendency of hipsters and generally cool people, who love to find trendy music before everyone else and rub it in their faces.

Too Cool for School?

It’s an interesting idea, but I’m wondering if their target demographic is too cool to have their coolness institutionalized and commoditized on a website. Perhaps. And the site’s look doesn’t encourage great trendsetting or stylishness. Some people in the Techcrunch comments section pointed out that it’s similar to a pyramid scheme. Hmmm…..

I posted my music here, and we’ll see how things go. Since it’s a relatively new site, perhaps it will offer more visibility than the older ones already flooded with content.

Sell Music Directly from Your Website

Thanks to constant tech innovations, there are now a million ways for the independent artist to distribute music digitally. We’ve looked at services like Tunecore and CDBaby that will get your music to many of the major players in digital music sales. And now there are a bunch of ways for the artist to sell music directly from their websites, and enables fans to do the same, with little to no start-up costs. Awesome.

There’s a good introductory article on this topic by David Rose at Know The Music Biz’s Blog. He did a quick survey of his top 10 bands and found that many of them still don’t allow fans to buy mp3’s directly from their websites, myspace profiles, etc. His point being that this just makes it one step harder for people to become your fans. Sure they can go to iTunes, but you might lose some potential listeners that don’t want to bother loading iTunes, etc.

David points to a few services that will allow artists to set up their own webstores for mp3 downloads. These are: Musicane, Hooka, Easybe, and Nimbit.

I’ve checked these out and listed below are some initial thoughts on each one, based on my own requirements as a musician with very limited resources and not a huge fanbase. Most artists aren’t really going to sell that many downloads, no matter how good the music is. So getting free technology is key to making direct music sales worthwhile.

Continue reading “Sell Music Directly from Your Website”

Using TuneCore to Put Music on iTunes, Rhapsody and Other Distribution Sites

I recently used Tunecore to distribute my latest musical release to iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, and a whole bunch of other services.

The album creation and upload process was pretty straightforward, and TuneCore’s user interface is very clean and easy to use. The tracks took forever to upload, but it was ~160MB for 4 songs.

Only two quibbles:

  1. The help links on the album creation/upload pages open in the same browser window, which made me worry I was going to lose the information I had already entered. These should open in pop-up windows.
  2. After uploading a track, it says “Verifying file” or something, and a circular icon rotates to show you that the file is being processed. I waited for this to stop, but it never did on its own. I was afraid to do anything else because I didn’t want to corrupt the file I had waited an hour to upload. Turns out, once verification begins, you can add another song below, and when the page refreshes, it will indicate that the previous track has been added successfully. This wasn’t clear to me, so I wasted a lot of time waiting for something that never happened.

These are really just small usability issues…

Each Digital Distributor is Different

TuneCore does a good job of laying out all the payment intricacies involved with each of the digital distributors that you can push your music to. Each service is different and may be more or less profitable for artists. But I figure that the more ways someone can discover my music, the better. Everyone I know buys music from iTunes, but maybe some users of the other services will discover me somehow.

And now…The wait.

After completing the upload and album creation process, then paying, the site returns a message saying that the music should be available in 8-10 weeks. Damn. This is a long time. I’m sure Apple and company have billions of terabytes to process, but still. Two months seems quite long. Oh well. At least it’s out of my hands now.

It didn’t take nearly as long as I feared for my music project to go live with the various services. In many cases, it was only a few weeks. Awesome!

Why I Chose TuneCore over CDBaby

Back in 2008, I chose Tunecore over CDBaby to distribute my second EP. At the time it made sense for reasons that I no longer recall.

Since then, it couldn’t be any clearer to me.

I would never choose TuneCore over CDBaby ever again

TuneCore is a crap service that holds your music hostage indefinitely. You’ll have to keep paying their annual fee forever, which after a few years feels like absolute robbery. They actually go through the trouble of having your music removed from iTunes if you stop paying them.

I stopped paying them because I found it absurd and anti-human. I finally re-listed the album through CDBaby, which you pay for once and that’s it.

The one downside to CDBaby is they charge 9% of your sales. But if you’re an unknown musician like me, that will be about $0.00 after a few years when everyone who knows your music has already bought it. In which case you don’t want to pay just to have them keep your music listing active.

End of story. Sorry for the bad advice, nearly eight years ago now. If you expect your albums to sell for years to come then maybe TuneCore’s annual fee will end up cheaper than 9% of sales. But if you’re just a regular musician putting some music out there, you’ll regret using TuneCore.