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10 Things Music Marketers Can Learn From Coldplay

Coldplay Lots of bands give music away free, but few superstars do it.  Coldplay did and did it right. This guest post from Australian music industry veteran Nick Crocker shares some lessons learned.

UPDATED: Earlier this year, Coldplay gave away a free mp3 of "Violet Hill", the first single from their album "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends".   By delivering genuine value to fans in an original way, Coldplay generated press coverage worldwide.  It was the act of a band at the top of its game and extended Coldplay's fan database, almost overnight, by 300,000. 

A Coldplay single in exchange for an email address and a postcode is a fair swap.  But the true value of the exchange lay in the connection Coldplay made with those 300,000 fans.   From that initial exchange, the challenge was how to use email to turn that list of email ad-dresses into a global tribe of passionate Coldplay advocates.

When done properly, email marketing is about the recipient – not the sender.  For a band...

Continue reading "10 Things Music Marketers Can Learn From Coldplay" »

Datz Music: Downloader's Dream, Artist's Nightmare

Datz A new flat rate unlimited music download serivce, Datz Music Lounge , offers unlimited mp3 catalog downloads with no strings attached.  EMI, WMG, Beggars and The Orchard are all playing ball with the UK based company offering full catalog without the current hits for £99.99 ($165)

In the rest run, 100,000 special USB keys will be sold in the UK that enable unlimited DRM free downloads for a year.  Unlike similarlly priced music subscription services, Datz allows users to keep the tracks for life with no strings attached. Nokia's Comes With Music makes similar claims, but in reality the tracks are DRM heavy and tethered to a limited number of devices.

Datz is a music downloaders dream and offer labels a new way to monetize catalog, but it devalues an artists music to the commodity level. To use a food anaolgy, what once was created as chicken cordon blue is now sold as a pile of wings on the all you can eat buffet.

Catalog should often be discounted and bundled.  Sometimes it should even be given away free. These strategies have a place and a purpose. But to offer it in an ulimited bundle delivered in a package that screams "grab as much as you can as fast as you can whether you care about it or not" is a mistake.  Next we'll be giving consumers digital shopping charts and holding contests to see who can shove the most in them.

Friday's Music Briefing: MySpace Music CEO, The Beatles, Napster, Awdio & More

  • Myspace_music_logo MySpace Music has offered the CEO position to Courtney Holt, former Interscope exec and MTV Networks' EVP of Digital Music & Media, according cNet.
  • Beatles_logo The digital shy Beatles and MTV owned Harmonix will allow their music to be used in a new video game to be created by the folks who brought us Rock Band.  Good stuff but hardly the "unprecedented global music project" that MTV promised in Wednesday's press released.
  • Napster adds 13 million AT&T wireless customers to its Napster Mobile serivce. (press release)
  • RealNetworks suffered a net loss of $4.5M for the third quarter, compared to a gain of $4.3M iduringthe same time last year. The balance sheet did show gains in both its music and gaming. (press release)Hot_topic
  • Awdio has raised $2 million for a service that puts night clubs live on the net in ad supported service. (TechCrunch)
  • Wired likes the new Hot Topic's Shockhound download store. (Listening Post)

Staff Cuts At Sonicbids And eMusic

The slowing economy has hit two more online based music firms.

Sonicbids_logo Sonicbids has laid off 9 of its 58 staff members. The cuts touched every department except Member Relations including some at eh executive level. CEO Panos Pany insists he's just being prudent telling Hypebot that "the economic environment has definitely been taken into account, though so far it has not affected Sonicbids."

Panos_panay_founder_of_sonicbids_01 As for ongoing online criticsm of Sonicbid's pay for the opportunity to perform program which drives much of the company's revenue, Panay replies "When you are successful, you get criticized. I understand this. But we believe in our business model, even as we are evolving it."
Emusic Over at eMusic 10% of the workforce was cut. Danny Stein, who chairs eMusic and runs parent JDS Capital told All Things Digital that retail partners like Best Buy and others that bundle eMusic with their products are reporting slower sales. But Stein says online traffic remains strong and eMusic will grow revenue 40% for the year.  The future, however, is less rosey. “We are expecting to grow, but we’re going grow slower than we’d hoped” predicting somehere in "double digits" next year.  The search continues to replace CEO David Pakman who left to join Venrock, the Rockefeller family's venture capital arm.

Expect more cuts in the sector before Christmas.

MTV's "Unprecedented Global Project"? The Beatles

Mtv Beatles_logo UPDATED: Yesterday MTV sent dozens of emails to the media including Hypebot inviting us to an "unprecedented global music project" (aka a conference call) today with the top network's top execs and the head of The Beatles' Apple Corp.  I admit I was intrigued until rumors began to circulate that the announcement was really just that Fab Four were licensing content to MTV owned Harmonix video game Rock Band.

So if you want up to the minute coverage of this "unprecedented global music project" you'll have to look elsewhere.  I'll write about it tomorrow, but I'm boycotting the event...OK I'm just not dialing in. I get a little tired of that every time the Fab Four farts somebody tries to turn it into an event. If John Lennon were alive he'd be calling the MTV PR department to complain too.


Here is the full text of the short announcement:

Continue reading "MTV's "Unprecedented Global Project"? The Beatles" »

Thursday's Music Briefing: imeem, Didiom, Earnings Calls & Much More

  • Imeem imeem, Beggars Group and Matador Records forged a gobal licensing agreement (press release)
  • An RIAA defendant gets some help from Harvard Law. (ars)
  • Didiom announced the beta launch of an application to integrate a mobile music placeshifting and download service. The free app allow fans to wirelessly access their computer's iTunes library from over two hundred mobile devices, including BlackBerry and Windows Mobile phones. (press release)
  • Is the music industry making the grade? A year ago the Toronto Star offered our advice on how to fix a sick business. Here's a report card on how it's doing so far. (Toronto Star)
  • Sony profits took a nose dive. (Hollywood Reporter)Stock_market
  • RealNetworks delivers its projected earnings...just barely. (press release)
  • Warner Music Group Corp. to Conduct Earnings Conference Call on Tuesday, November 25th. (press release)
  • Live Nation Schedules Third Quarter 2008 Earnings Release Thursday November 6th. (press release)
  • Word Magazine readers have been busy building a map showing where iconic album cover photographs were taken. (Word via Daily Swarm)

The Record Business Is Not The Music Business

Volumes have been written on the troubles facing the music business: illegal downloading is decimating sales, broadcast radio's dominance as a promotional tool has bee diminished by new media, music creation, distribution and discovery is now in the hands of the many rather than the chosen feBroken_recordw. All are causing seismic shifts in the music business.

The problem with this doom and gloom is that they are talking about the record business and not the music business.

Other sectors of the music business are doing quite well, thank-you.  People are still flocking to live shows.  Almost anyone can shoot and video and there have never been so many outlets for showing them.  Merchandise sales are up and online stores extend their value beyond the live show. A large musical middle class is emerging that is not constrained by the major label industrial complex.

So the next time someone says the music business is hurting, please correct them.  The record business is hurting.  The music business is doing just fine.

Wednesday Music Briefing: Wal-Mart, EMI, IODA, Thumplay & Much More



  • Emi EMI denies that is has signed with Baidu. (Billboard)
  • Microsoft has opened as Univision branded download store. (press release) Expect more branded stores from media giants and brands.  See Shcokhound below.
  • Teen fashion retailer Hot Topic has opened its Shockhound download store. (press release)
  • Thumplay has launched a full song wireless download store in beta. (press release)
  • Ioda_logo From WOMEX comes the announcement that IODA has added the World Circuit label to its global digital distribution and marketing roster. World Circuit artists include Buena Vista Social Club, Ali Farka Touré, Ibrahim Ferrer, Orchestra Baobab, and Rubén González.
  • The obituary of Grateful Dead attorney Hal Kant offers a rare glimpse into the machinery that built the band and protected the band's integirty. (WSJ) A very worth read about the buiding of one of music's most famous tribes.
  • World satellite radio firm WorldSpace has been delisted from NASDAQ.  (BusinessWire) Is Sirius XM next?
  • Rumors continue to swirl that Led Zepplin will tour and record without Robert Plant. (BBC)

Walmart Gets Serious About Downloads

A revamped Walmart.com MP3 store launched today with aggressive pricing and new features that take full advantage of Walmart's reach, clout and the chain's brick and mortar locations:Walmart_logo

  • 3 million MP3's from all four major labels and some independents
  • Top 25 songs from artists start at $.74. Standard pricing is $.94
  • Free Track Of The Week
  • Free mp3 of the customer's choice with every CD purchase in stores or online beginning mid-November
  • Exclusive Soundcheck performances including upcoming shows with Beyonce, Nickelback and current American Idol, David Cook

The new download store also includes social features to display albums on social networking sites and blogs, as well as, enhanced search and discovery features.

3 Reasons AC/DC Chose Wal-Mart

UPDATED: After a #1 UK debut, early sales put the new AC/DC "Black Ice" Wal-Mart exclusive now also tops the US charts with 780,000 in first week sales. (more) How did it do it and why did AC/DC choose Wal-Mart?  These three grainy cell phone photos from the front aisle of Wal-Mart in rural Berlin, NH tell the story where  at AC/DC Rock Again Store - combining music, apparel, DVDs and video games customers can buy both album and a new AC/DC shirt for under $20.


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MTV Takes A Shot At YouTube And Misses

Mtv_music The original go to place for music videos has launched a new web site aimed at taking back some of the traffic lost to the new go to place for music videos, YouTube. MTVmusic.com is a clean a simple destination populated with a catalog of classic videos as well as interviews and concerts drawn from MTV's extensive archives. The Hulu like screen is crisp and video sharing and embedding is enabled. (See what a Roger McGuinn video look like the player after the jump.)

YouTube has nothing to worry about.

The catalog at MTVmusic.com is as shallow as the television network has always been.  A search for content from the just deceased Merl Saunders found nothing.  Same thing for 2 time Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame inductee Solomon Burke.  Nothing from cult favorites Over The Rhine either.  And because all of the content is carefully liscenced and approved, missing are all of those gems from private collectionsm old TV shows and cell phone cameras. 

Continue reading "MTV Takes A Shot At YouTube And Misses" »

Tribes: Music For A Movement

This Ticket_admit_oneguest post Kyle Bylin of 50 Entertainment was inspired by Seth Godin's new book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. Read Hypebot's recent interview with Godin here.

There are many artists who attract large crowds when they tour, but only a select few attract large tribes.  Fans come and go like passing trends as they grow older, but the followers of a tribe grow together.  In his new book Tribes, Seth Godin describes a crowd as a tribe without a leader or communication.  The leaders of tribes instill passion into their followers to the point of loyalty beyond reason.  These cults of heretics form communities around artists, establish a connection and relationship, and demand music that is real, authentic, and meaningful.

Kiss_army Bill Starkey and Jay Evans were two teenagers from Terre Haute, Indiana who transformed a shared interest into a passionate goal and desire for change in January of 1975.  They began contacting their local radio station WVTS in order to get their favorite artist played, but the program director, Rich Dickerson, turned them down.  Not to be discouraged, the two kept campaigning the station with letters that were signed:  Bill Starkey – President of the KISS Army and Jay Evans – Field Marshall.  By July of 1975, Rich caved in and began to play their records, often referring to the KISS Army on air.  It wasn't long after that listeners began calling the station asking how they could enlist.  Though leveraging the tribe to allow it to grow and gain new members Starkey and Evans started a movement of their own. 

When KISS announced it would be touring to the local venue, the Hulman Center, in November, Dickerson saw the marketing potential of the Army.  Working with Starkey and Evans to provide advanced promotion...

Continue reading "Tribes: Music For A Movement" »

Tuesday's Music Briefing: MySpace, Teen Radio, Grudge Match & Much More


Myspace_2 MORE NEWS:

  • Does being local still count anymore? It may. MySpace is closing its Netherlands. office after failing to compete with local rival Hyves. (cNet)
  • EMI lands in airports via deal with InMotion's Hotspot kiosks. (press release)
  • Activision releases "Guitar Hero World Tour" game. (press release)
  • The Blackberry Partners Fund awarded $150,000 each to two music apps. (moco news)
  • A new study says younger teens are embracing broadcast radio. (NY Times) Really?
  • Music blog Idolator calls out Wired's Listening Post with "Wired" Blogger Not Afraid To Look Stupid".
  • Hushie is the latest Seeqpod-powered MP3 search engine. (Music Ally)
  • A college newspaper reporter writes that the RIAA is actually encouraging piracy. (La Voz)

"Web Site Can Now Be Your Album"

Vinyl_record "The Web site can now be your album... an ongoing ever changing one that grows and changes and reflects your creative impulses as you have them.

Grab the moment of a song and share it the night you finished it."

- Stephen Jenkins, Third Eye Blind (more @ cNet)

TuneCore Gets $7M From Opus Capital. Why???

Tunecore UPDATED: The economic meltdown has slowed venture funding, but it hasn't stopped it entirely. Discount flat fee digital distributor TuneCore has received $7 million in first round financing from Opus Capital which it says will be used to improve artist service as well as to market the service more widely.

Hypebot readers are familiar with the TuneCore. Former indie label owner Jeff Price has created a simple yet brilliantly seductive business model that sent shivers down the spines of labels and distributors. For about $40 you can put an album on all the major download stores without long term contracts. You retain the rights. You do the marketing. “We take out the filters and let everybody in," is how Price describes it.

Reverbnation_logo Opus Capital's Gill Cogan told VentureBeat that he'd "screened a lot of music internet companies but didn’t find any that could do what TuneCore does."  Well, Opus and VentureBeat should both hire new research departements. The flat fee distribtuion model has already been adopted by several companies. The largest, ReverbNation, offers a similar and sometimes cheaper flat fee service to 250,000 artist members. And ReverbNation offers an integrated suite of free viral promotional tools that TuneCore would do well to spend its $7 million copying.  - Bruce Houghton (click below for press release)

Continue reading "TuneCore Gets $7M From Opus Capital. Why???" »

EMI Loss Hits $1.2 Billion. Can It Survive?

Emi EMI lost a whopping $1.2 billion in the financial year that ended March 31st dwarfing the prior year’s $455 million river of red. Revenue declined to $2.3 billion from $2.8 billion.

Some losses stem from restructuring after Terra Firma's takeover. But EMI underperformed its competitors using most benchmarks. CD sales at EMI fell 45% from 2005 to 2007 compared to an average market decline of 19%. EMI projected 51% revenue growth in digital saled and delivered 29% growth despite being the first to drop DRM.

“There should be no false expectations,” the report stated. “EMI cannot be turned around overnight.”  It's hard to see how EMI can A&R its way out of this mess and survive while Hands & Co. restructure, but the company may have no choice. In normal times consoldation with WMG would now be rumored. But a gloomy global economy looms making it hard to imagine any investor saving Terra Firma by scooping up EMI's assets even at fire sale prices.

One WMG Board Member Has Better Things To Do

Wmg_2 WMG announced Friday that Jonathan M. Nelson has resigned from its Board of Directors.

Nelson is CEO Providence Equity Partners, a private equity firm focused on media, entertainment, communications and information services investments. A statement released by WMG indicated that he was leaving the board "due to the relative size of Providence’s investment in WMG compared to other portfolio investments he was electing to discontinue his service on WMG's Board of Directors in order to commit additional time to other responsibilities."

Monday's Music Briefing: Zune, iPhone Apps, Keiser Chieds & Much More



  • Revenue is down at Microsoft's Zune/xBox division. (paidContent)
  • Even if Royalties for Web Radio Fall, Revenue Remains Elusive (NY Times)
  • Artists band together for an MTV salute to the troops. (FMQB)
  • iPhone apps are gaining traction as music promotion and distribution vehicles. (Listening Post)
  • The Keiser Chiefs talk about album leaks, tour support and how the music industry is changing. (Drowned In Sound)
  • Sf_musictech From last week's SF Music Tech Summit:

Music's Week In Review: Ticketmaster Grabs Indie Payola, Facebook, CD Baby & Much More

How Are Your Building Your Music Tribe?

Tribes_circles_2 How you are building your tribe?. Whether its fans or team members at a label, management firm or start-up we're all trying to build tribes.  Is Facebook. ArtistData or Basecamp working for you?  Are you using vlogs or free music to grow your Tribe? Maybe there's something you've seen someone else use that you think is worth sharing.

One winner for the best idea gets a free a copy of Seth Godin's new book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. Two more winners can tell me your favorite 2 artists on our Skyline Music booking agency roster and I'll send you some free CD's. I'll also share some of the best in a Tribe Building post.  

Share your music tribe building stories and read the experiences of other tribe builders here.


From his work with Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead to his wonderful solo recordings Merl Saunders won the hearts of many.  His warm smile and big hugs helped Jerry after his stroke and brought love to the legions of jam band kids that he always had time for after the show.  He was also a friend and client of mine and I will miss him. Here's Merl on 2000 with his Funky Friends.

Derek Sivers Got $22 Million For CD Baby

Derek_sivers Entrepreneur Forms Musician's Charitable Trust

$22 million. From a one man operation in his garage to a $22 million sale to Disc Makers in ten years.  It's a story that will flame the fires of hope for hundreds of music entrepreneurs  The story is made more powerful because Derek Sivers is generous with his time and because he earned it by providing much needed services for indie musicians.

Cdbaby CD Baby sells CDs and downloads for almost a quarter million artists and to date has sold 4.5 million CD's paying out $83 million to them. I don't know about much about purchase multiples, but why would Disc Makers pay $22 million for a company that size whose core business, CD sales, is on the decline? TRUST. Those quarter million artists trust CD Baby to treat them fairly and pay them quickly.  Disc Makers may be able to build on that trust and its own reputation to create a one stop shop for independent and d.i.y. music. 

What will Sivers do with his big pay day? He's put into Musician's Charitable Trust: "I didn't even want the money... It's all just going back to the musicians," he told Venture Voice.  I'll have more details on what Sivers is up to soon or you can listen to the Venture Voice interview here.

Under The Guns ('n Roses) Dr. Pepper Goes Free

Dr_pepper_guns True to its word, Dr. Pepper will honor the release of Guns 'n Roses' Chinese Democracy with a free soda for every American.     "We never thought this day would come," said Tony Jacobs, vice president of marketing for Dr Pepper. "But now that it's here all we can say is: The Dr Pepper's on us." The manufacturer had made the promise earlier this year as part of a publicity campaign that had fun with the band's 17 year old struggle to finish the CD.

Dr Pepper is ready to give out free soda coupons to every American when the album releases on Nov. 23, 2008. If getting a a free Dr Pepper matters to you, follow these steps:

Continue reading "Under The Guns ('n Roses) Dr. Pepper Goes Free" »

Universal Bundles Music For Dell PC's

Dell As part of their move back into music, computer maker Dell and Universal have teamed to offer bundles of genre related tracks pre-installed on new Dell PC's.

Universal The 50 song music bundles for $25 and 100 song for $50 includes a curated selection of MP3s priced at about half of the standard per $.99 track Initial Universal bundles include  #1 Songs, Afternoon Delight, Blues Masters, The Classics, Freshmen, Rock Titans, and and an exercise themed bundle Sweatbands & Leotards. The offering will be expanded and refreshed regularly. A similar offering bundles films.

Friday's Music Briefing: Twitter, OurStage, Bono, Sony, Lala & More



  • "Twitter is radically changing the way musicians are building communities of supportive fans around them. Are you still resisting it?" by publicity guru Ariel Hyatt and Laura Fitton on Music Think Tank.
  • OurStage launches a music discovery platform for the iPhone. (press release)
  • Bono has signed an Op-Ed deal with the New York Times. (New York Magazine)
  • What lies ahead for Sony Music? (Coolfer)
  • Duncan Freeman @ the Indie Music Tech blog has an interview with the founders of MixMatchMusic (IndieMusicTech)
  • "10 Cents Buys Everything I Like About LaLa" (Ad Supported Music Central)
  • Mouse WORTHY CLICK: GigPay is a UK start-up that acts as a middleman and escrow service between artists and promoters.

Ticketmaster To Buy Azoff's Frontline Management

Concert_ticket Is Ticketmaster: The Concert Promoter Next?

Ticketmaster is buying a majority interest in Irving Azoff's Frontline Management (Christina Aguilera, the Eagles, Jimmy Buffett and Neil Diamond and others) and Azoff will head the combined operation, according to the Wall Street Journal.  The move is designed to strenghten Ticketmaster against concert giant Live Nation who has started a competing ticketing operation.

Ticketmaster The mainstream press contends that Ticketmaster is buying control over Azoff's star studded roster to counter Live Nation's direct relationship with the artists (Madonna, US, Jay-Z, Nickleback and the many tours it promotes).  But ticketing deals are almost always made directly with the venues; not with artists.  The real star power in this deal is Irving Azoff.

A shrewed negotiator who always comes out on top, Azoff has deep connections thorughout the music industry.  This deal certainly represents a payday for him, as well as, a major challenge: how to stem the tide of ticketing clients to Live Nation when at the same time cutting the best deals he can for his management clients with the largest promoter in th world.

But what Irving giveth; Irving can also taketh away. What is to prevent Ticketmaster from becoming a national concert promoter?  They have deep pockets, relationships with venues and a rich database of concertgoers. Now Ticketmaster also has the 100 top artists represented by Frontline Management and most of all they have Irving Azoff.

Random Notes From CMJ 2008

  • Cmj_2008 The common thread from yesterday’s panels was SERVICES.
  • Took a quick trip through the trade hall and spoke with Muzlink, a music discovery search engine with entry level net surfer in mind, but where it falls down in my mind is a) it only includes those bands that sign up and b) it still lacks some important connectivity that would help a band sell product (merchandise or tickets) to their fans.
  • The Inmates Running The Asylum panel was interesting b/c they talked about a self release vs label release. The panel was spilt 50/50 on the topic with a slight edge towards younger bands should try to find a label with a strong “brand” to help new listeners identify them with that brand. (duh?)
  • Saw Trevor Menear live last night. He's a special talent.
  • Stay tuned...

New Pete Yorn Video Hopes To Mobilize Voters

Platinum seller Pete Yorn has released a new free single and video "American Blues Volume 1" that he hopes will remind people of the problems facing America and encourage them to vote on November 4th. Lyrics like "four-dollar-a-gallon-gas as jobs get slashed, you love your house, now give it back" are  mixed with images from headline news. MySpace has the free download.

Pete Yorn - American Blues Vol. 1

Gathering The Music Tribe

It's Tribes Week all this week on Hypebot - an exploration of marketing guru Seth Godin's new book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us - and it's implications for musicians and the music industry.

  • Tribes Exclusive Interview With Seth Godin
    • Part 1 - Tribes, Heretics & Music
    • Part 2 - Music's Messy Future
  • Share Your Favorite Tribe Building Story
  • Free Seth Godin, Free Tribes, Free The Music