Conventions & Awards

Highlights From SF MusicTech: Unify, Engage, Find Social Sweet Spot, Personalize & Monetize

SF Music Tech chinscott (UPDATED) #SFMusictech – Yesterday Hisham Dahud attended the 7th San Francisco Music Tech Summit as a correspondent for Hypebot.  Each year the summit brings together leaders in music and tech, along with the developers, entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, journalists, musicians and organizations. Here are the highlights:

Engaging Your Fans

  • Chris Vinson of Bandzoogle recommends using the artist website as a hub to coordinate activities and carry a unified message. He also mentions that artists should "get fans behind the scenes in the creative process" and to not worry about how pristine the presentation of content is. Fans just want it, no matter how raw it is.  He points out the classic marketing formula of “monetization = reach + frequency.”
  • Author and Marketing Strategist David Meerman Scott stresses that the more interesting and engaging content you can provide, the more people are willing to share it regardless of the platform; the platform is just the tool. He feels that giving away gifts "will come back to you" (gifts being a metaphor for good quality content) and will lead other purchases. The effective social media users are those that are listening and engaging with their audience. Virtual pats on the back in incredibly powerful (such as retweeting a fan). He related fan acquisition to exercise: “ten a day for 2000 days and you'll feel real good about yourself ten years down the road.”
  • Meredith Chin of Facebook notes the importance of a consistent message. Different platforms require different frequencies (i.e. less direct emails, but more tweets). She noted the social media “sweet spot” being 3-4 status updates per day on Facebook; 8-10 tweets per day on Twitter, and 3-4 blog posts/week (although this depends on the artist). She made a strong point that accessibility is expected, but authenticity is required. "Great music will always speak for itself, but people want the full story about you. Show your true colors."
  • Del the Funky Homosapien of Hieroglyphics mentioned that he could care less if fans download his music, because it usually leads to them wanting more content. On breaking through the noise, he stresses that today’s artists need to really take the time to be truly outstanding.

Music Education

  • Due to some major budget pressures, there are a lot of changes happening in the way music is being taught.
  • Dr. Dee Spencer of San Francisco State noted that California is stuck in a "50s mentality," which creates a challenge for promoting change. We’ve apparently reached a “crisis level” in funding. He went on to mention that music education used to rely on tax dollars. Since this has virtually dried up, there's been more pressure to actually make revenues now.
  • Mike King of the Berklee College of Music mentioned that music production is the most popular area for online music courses.
  • Mimi Fox of The Jazzschool/NYU pointed out the success of music lessons in state prisons. Music education programs helped to reduce recidivism rates by 75%.

What’s Working?

  • Emily White of Whitesmith Entertainment concluded that the album cycle is now dead. Today, it’s about consistently providing new content, developing a solid strategy, and direct marketing. She disagrees with artists outsourcing their social media strategies because the artist completely misses out on connecting with fans.
  • Jeff Beaver of Zazzle points out that companies need to harness the power of personalization. He mentions the thumbs up/down feature on Pandora Radio as a prime example.
  • Larry Marcus of Walden Venture Capital says that labels should give advances to tech companies, and not the other way around.
  • Jeff Prince of TuneCore says that the game has changed to the monetization of fame. With the consumption of file based/iTunes downloaded music declining for the first time ever in 2010, he proposes that giving away music to generate fame and make money in other ways, like merchandise & ads are more effective ways of music monetization.

Notable New Tech Debuts

  • Yobble has developed a guitar pick with a motion sensor in it, attached to an iPhone, which acts as a fret board. It plays like an air guitar.
  • High Resolution Technologies announces the iStreamer, a separate $199 iPhone-size DAC device that improves the sound quality of iPhones.


Hisham Dahud is a musician, producer, and aspiring music business professional. He currently studies Marketing and Music Industry Business at San Francisco State. Follow him on Twitter: @hishamdahud.


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  1. Is 8 to 10 tweets, and 3 to 4 facebook updates overkill? I love my music and my favourite artists, but that’s way too much. And a bit forced.
    Take it easy is my recommendation … if you have something important to say, or something interesting … otherwise your compromising yourself and coming across as a bit of a tosser [for want of a better word].
    If you want to engage with your fans … just make sure you respond to them when they contact you!

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