The Digest: Jay-Z, Mozart’s Violin, and Why Your Local Music Scene Sucks

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Jay-Z/Samsung – The Lefsetz Letter

Bob Lefsetz, the no-holds-bared music industry commentator, is at it again, and this time he slams Jay-Z for selling his music out to the corporations. Samsung is giving away his latest album for free to those who use their smartphones; the album will instantly go platinum as a result. Lefsetz argues that marketing ploys such as this one mean the focus has shifted away from the music and toward the novelty of the stunt. And the problem with stunts is that they’re only good once.

The Lost Half Decade Of Music Recorded After Napster – Hypebot

Between about 1999 and 2004, there was a lot of exceptional music made by a lot of talented artists, who, thanks to new and affordable recording equipment, were able to make the music they wanted to make. ADATs reigned supreme in the 90’s, but they would give way to the more powerful (and less expensive) DAWs of the 21st century. Facebook and Twitter (circa 2003 – 2006) helped artists spread the word. But the core power tools for promotion and dissemination online simply did not yet exist. Andrew Dubber argues it’s time to give that lost music the chance it never really got.

Steven Tyler, Joe Perry Inducted Into Songwriters Hall of Fame – Rolling Stone

Other honorees included Elton John and Bernie Taupin (recipients of the Johnny Mercer Award for lifetime achievement), Foreigner, Billy Joel, and Berry Gordy (honored by Smokey Robinson with the 2013 Pioneer award).

tumblr_m7gw3vMYAT1r3nzmmo1_500Why Your Local Music Scene Sucks – Music Marketing [dot] Com

You can’t get fans to support you just because they’re in the same area code, says David Hooper. They don’t owe it to you to buy your music; you have to give them a reason. It has to be good. And if it is, you’re halfway there. Do unto others and set the example, Hooper adds: go out and see other acts. Get the ball rolling, and you’ll soon have the following you want.

The Average iTunes Customer is Spending Less – Billboard

Apple recently announced it had 575 million iTunes accounts, compared with 100 million in September of 2009. While that sounds impressive, a closer look at the numbers shows that more people are actually spending less, bringing the dollar value of each account down from $74 in 2009 to $40 today. Glenn Peoples discusses what this means to Apple and the music industry.

The Evolution of Music Tech – SoundCtrl

“In just the past decade, the advent of innovative, volatile and disruptive music technology continues and is accelerating – pushing the industry to accommodate a consumer base that is empowered, hyper-connected, and always-on.” This fascinating timeline shows how this technology snowballed as the public demanded more.

amandine_beyer_violin-3d0c1dfceeed93893dd24bc46b78951a099b5b27-s6-c30Playing Mozart – On Mozart’s ViolinNPR

It’s not an ornate instrument, as one might expect, but rather a plain, “workhorse fiddle” made in Bavaria. It and the master’s viola are kept at the Salzburg Mozarteum under heavy security. They were finally brought to the United States for the first time, on separate flights, and with a nondescript security detail. Still, all of the arrangements for the Boston and New York concerts were worth it to Miloš Valent, who said holding Mozart’s viola  “is something extremely personal.”

Independent Radio In the Digital Age – Engadget

Independent radio stations WFMU and KCRW belong to no corporations and answer to no one but the listeners themselves. They have survived media consolidation and an internet revolution. Their bi-annual pledge drives show they were into crowdfunding well before Kickstarter, and it’s allowed for some fiercely independent programming. Their format? “We specialize in playing hippy noise music that people hate,” replies WFMU’s general manager.

Twitter’s #Music Flops, But Twitter Is Still Key to Your MarketingMusic Think Tank

Even though Twitter #Music didn’t live up to the hype, Twitter is still critical to your marketing game plan. Among other things, the micro-blogging platform allows you to plug into your musical niche quickly and easily, thus allowing you to build relationships with industry leaders. Twitter also enables musicians to find and engage with potential fans.

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The Digest is a weekly feature of the Sketchbook blog that provides an annotated listing of links to relevant articles about events, trends, people, and things that have a direct impact on musicians. If you find The Digest useful, or if you want to suggest improvements, please let me know. Also, if you have content you’d like to see included, please send a message via Twitter or Facebook. And share the love by passing The Digest on via email or social media.

Photo credits: Top – http://www.insidetheframe.net; Middle – http://www.tumblr.com; Bottom – http://www.npr.com

The Digest: Fresh News About the Music Business – March 30, 2013

ramonePhil Ramone, Music Producer, Dies at 72 NPR The Two-Way

While the cause of death was not immediately disclosed, Ramone was known to have been hospitalized with an aortic aneurysm in February. Ramone, a South African native, studied at the Julliard School in New York when he was a teenager and went on to earn 14 Grammy Awards.

Topspin Offers 5 Direct-to-Fan Lessons From SXSW Hypebot

South by Southwest is more than just a venue – it’s a place where artists can learn about the latest trends that affect their music and what lessons they can learn from those trends. The Hypebot article describes five of these lessons and strategies for musicians and those who work with them. Among them: the digital streaming experience must evolve to allow fans to dig deeper into the music and discover the artist completely. Also, artists must also go beyond the metrics, such as followers and likes, and focus on the authenticity of their messages.

Get Ready – Apple’s iRadio Is On the Way! Forbes

Slated to launch sometime this summer, iRadio is acknowledged to be the next logical step in the progression of iTunes, iPods, iPhones, and so on. So what took it so long? The sticking point seems to have been profitability: Pandora pays artists $0.12 per 100 spins, and Spotify pays a whopping $0.35 per 100 spins. Apple, however,  wants to pay only $0.06 per 100 spins. Whether or not they get that rate isn’t etched in stone, but if talk of a launch is buzzing about, you can be sure that Apple has the hammer and chisel ready.

House Concert Tips and Advice Music Music Marketing [dot] com

house-concertIf you’re considering playing a house concert, take time to listen to this podcast first. The folks from Music Marketing [dot] com discuss topics ranging from which artists benefit from house concerts the most to whether house concerts should be streamed to getting Beyonce to play your house. And for more information about house concerts, click here.

Guitar Giant Gibson Takes Control of Teac Scotsman

The deal is worth a reported $52 million, and according to the guitar company, will help it expand into Asian markets.

Why Your Facebook Page Isn’t Growing Music Think Tank

Face it. You’re probably not going to get above 6 percent engagement on your band’s page, and that’s on a good day. In fact, most users have fewer than 256 followers. Some of that is your fault: you don’t post interesting content, you don’t use pictures or infographics, and you don’t engage with the community. But Facebook has stacked the deck against you. You can’t reach 100 percent of the people out there because the advertisers are paying for that privilege.

The Rise of the Musicpreneur Music Think Tank

Tommy Darker has written the first of three articles that provide “a well-organized overview of the tasks involved in being a modern do-it-yourself artist,” and it’s worth a read, especially if you’re just starting out on the indie artist road. What follows is a solid tutorial on music business terms and tasks, such as sustainable business model (what you do to stay in business), and growth/metrics (how you measure how well you’re staying in business). Then there’s stuff about web presence, branding, SEO, online platforms, and so on. If it seems intimidating, then you’d better read it twice and brace for parts 2 and 3.

Bob Moog Inducted Into Inventors Hall of Fame Music Industry Newswire

robert-moog-2Dr. Robert Moog, inventor of the legendary Minimoog Synthesizer, earned his rightful place among his fellow peers recently when he was posthumously inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame. A statement from his company headquarters in Asheville, NC, explained Moog’s honor as one given to “individuals who conceived, patented, and advanced so many of the great technological achievements that have changed our world.”

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The Digest is a weekly feature of the Sketchbook blog that provides an annotated listing of links to relevant articles about events, trends, people, and things that have a direct impact on us as musicians. If you find The Digest useful, or if you want to suggest improvements, please let me know. Also, if you have content you’d like to see included, please send a message via Twitter or Facebook. And share the love by passing The Digest on via email or social media.

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The Digest – March 23, 2013

fire saleIs the $1.99 Album the Next Big Thing for Musicians? Digital Music News

On February 26th, Amazon decided to offer several albums at the fire sale price of  just $1.99, including Bruno Mars’ latest album, Unorthodox Jukebox, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis‘ The Heist. As both albums had been out for more than four weeks, they promptly climbed up the Billboard 200 chart. But who will pay the artists’ royalties? Or will that change, too?

Emerging Trends in Social Media, and How They’ll Impact Music Music Think Tank

Obviously, mobile devices and apps will gain importance to musicians in 2013, with increased emphasis on email marketing to mobile users. Band websites that are not now optimized for mobile browsing will ultimately cost their owners fans and revenue. And thinking beyond the obvious ways we connect to the web needs to be part of a band’s marketing strategy.

Musicians Accused of Buying Virtual Fans on YouTube BBC Newsbeat

A US-based data monitoring company reports that artists are buying followers and comments in order to bolster their image with the music industry. Is such a practice ethical? Doesn’t it cheapen the music? That’s debatable, but apparently the scheme works well enough for Justin Bieber, who was outed after his YouTube video views surged into the millions.

Songwriters: Find Your Natural Audience Music Think Tank

What’s the difference between Taylor Swift and Nick Cave? Ms. Swift is a pop artist, while Mr. Cave is what the industry calls a niche artist. And you can use these two extremes to figure out where your music lies. Ask yourself who you are, and if your music is more mainstream or more indie. And remember, you’re the mirror of your audience. They’ll come to see themselves in your music.

Unwanted Electronic Gear Rising in Toxic Piles The New York Times

e-waste-dump-nigeriaOld cathode ray tube monitors used to be an easily recyclable item. Not anymore. Since the arrival of the flat screen monitor, the CRTs have become fodder for warehouses, overseas waste shipments, or landfills here. And, as reported in another Times story, unwanted pianos are also finding permanent retirement at the dump. Maybe I should shop for gear there instead of the local music superstore.

Transitioning From Covers to Originals The Big Picture Music Production Blog

If your band has been playing out for a while, chances are one of the members has suggested writing and performing a few original tunes. Problem is, you’re known for being a great cover band. How do you make the transition? Bobby Owsinski offers four good suggestions as to how morph into an original act. One of the secrets? Don’t sound like the record.

Tips For a Great Recording Session Galaris Music Industry Directory

studioIt should go without saying that you need to practice outside the studio. A well-rehearsed band not only saves more money on studio time, but also brings more energy to a session than one still trying to work out parts. Galaris also recommends bringing spares of everything, getting used to a click track, and not believing you can fix it in the mix.

Ten Ways to Unclutter Your Band’s Website Bandzoogle

Exactly how many social media feeds do you need on your website, anyway? Will 40 pictures of the lead singer taken at the same gig really add gravitas? And while you’re cleaning up your website, ditch the guestbooks and hit counters. An uncluttered web presence is your friend.

The Digest is a weekly feature of the Sketchbook blog that provides an annotated listing of links to relevant articles about events, trends, people, and things that have a direct impact on us as musicians. If you find The Digest useful, or if you want to suggest improvements, please let me know. Also, if you have content you’d like to see included, please send a message via Twitter or Facebook. And share the love by passing The Digest on via email or social media.

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Image credits: Top – http://www.sunriverrealestatenews.com; Middle – http://www.flatrock.org.nz; Bottom – http://www.tvphotogblog.blogspot.com

The Digest – March 19, 2013

Express - 2013 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive FestivalSouth by Southwest: Recapping the Music Festival Time

A rundown of the SXSW highlights, from Prince to Justin Timberlake, to Waxahatchee, to Death Grips, to Dave Grohl, it’s all here. Next year I’ll drop some more names.

How the Internet Is Changing Everything (feat. Amanda Palmer on Vocals) Sex, Genes, and Rock

Thirty years ago, says Rob Brooks, if you wanted to listen to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” you had to buy Thriller. Today, if you want to listen to “Gangnam Style.” you need only go to YouTube or download it from iTunes. Or a bit torrent site. Piracy abounds, which has dramatically affected royalty payments to artists and producers alike. Now the question has become “how do we make listeners pay?” Brooks says bands to tour more, and fans to pay to experience music live. And that, he says, completely inverts the way technology changed music in the 20th century.

Twitter Enters the Music Business  SFGate.com

Similar to Pandora, the new Twitter Music app suggests songs to listeners based on the bands they follow. Expect a launch date by the end of March.

So You Want to Play the Piano Available For Preorder Classical Mel’s Piano & Music Education Blog

Concert pianist and piano teacher Melanie Spanswick recently finished her new book, So You Want To Play The Piano?, and it is an excellent guide for anyone thinking about the piano as his or her instrument of choice. Within its pages the novice pianist can find advice on finding the perfect instrument (and teacher), supporting a child who is learning, practicing, and much more. Spanswick’s book is officially on sale April 1, but readers can order So You Want to Play the Piano? in advance from Amazon.

Music Business: Investments Are Not Expenses The Media Online

productionNo one has to tell musicians these days that times are tough, and it really doesn’t matter if you’re a veteran or just starting out. And labels aren’t doing any better, despite the mythology of  them having hoards of cash in their secret underground vaults. So it’s no surprise that artists wince at ponying up mega bucks for things like production, live sound, and branding. But what musicians must realize is that these things aren’t expenses – they’re investments in the artist, his career, and the success of the label.

New Study Finds That Music Piracy Doesn’t Negatively Affect Sales WebProNews Technology

According to the music industry, music piracy will be the death of it. But a new study shows that such is not the case. In fact, most users who are interested in music visited both pirated sites and online music stores. The study went on to claim that pirate sites actually contributed to an increase in clicks on online music stores’ links by up to  2 percent.

The Disconnect Between Musicians and Promoters The Lowry Agency Blog

Opening acts should spend less time whining about a low turnout and more time getting out on the street and promoting the show, says artist management guru David Lowry. In Part 1 he goes on to describe the costs, wheeling, and dealing involved in putting on a show, and offers sage advice to openers: get out and help put butts in seats. Part 2 involves landing a gig as an opening act, and doing that is all about developing a relationship with a promoter. “Business people are looking for persistence, reliability, creativity and hard work,” Lowry explains. “This is a very speculative business, and so promoters are looking for artists that will make sure they deliver and help make sure the show doesn’t operate at a loss.”

Seven Music Career Myths The Musician’s Way Blog

zeusBeing technically proficient with your instrument helps, but it’s not going to make your career all by itself. Nor do managers handle everything for you. (Nor should they. It’s your career!) And rather than rely on winning the Van Cliburn Piano Competition, students can better serve their careers by “performing innovative programs for diverse audiences, [and] growing their fan bases in the process.”

The Digest is a weekly feature of the Sketchbook blog that provides an annotated listing of links to relevant articles about events, trends, people, and things that have a direct impact on us as musicians. If you find The Digest useful, or if you want to suggest improvements, please let me know. Also, if you have content you’d like to see included, please send a message via Twitter or Facebook. And share the love by passing The Digest on via email or social media.

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Image credits: Top – http://www.time.com; Middle – http://www.maketrance.com; Bottom – http://www.cocc.com

The Digest, Volume 10

112112-Fiona-Apple-400The Fifty Best Songs of 2012, by Jon Dolan and David Fricke, et. al. on Rolling Stone.

Some list! Predictable: Taylor Swift (number 2), Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen, who is behind Seoul brother PSY. Questionable: Carly Rae “Call Me Maybe” Jepsen (at number 50). And Fiona Apple – my favorite ever since “Criminal” – comes in at number 12 with “Hot Knife.”

Recordings Not Live, by Bob Lefsetz on The Lefsetz Letter.

The paradigm has shifted, Bob tells us in his latest letter. It wasn’t too long ago that bands practiced, got good, played out, got a following, then recorded an album. Today, that order has reversed itself: now you have to record so that venues can hear what you sound like before they book you. And, of course, you need a following before you can get booked. So what’s a new band to do? Simple – just be like PSY and have one killer song.

Does South Korean Rapper PSY Hate America? by Annie Reuter on 92.3 NOW.

gangnamstyle_wp“Gangnam Style” rapper PSY is scheduled to perform for President Obama during an upcoming Christmas in Washington special, but apparently there are some anti-American skeletons in his closet that have preceded his visit. His 2002 song “Dear America” contains some forceful language about US armed forces in Iraq.

A Simple Reason Why Audiences Are So Small For New Music Concerts, by Elissa Milne on elissamilne.wordpress.com

A resident of Sidney, Australia, Elissa has no patience with musicians who attribute a poor showing to their claim that “Australia is so backward.” It’s closer to the truth, she argues, that indie musicians have a small turnout because the music has no fans. Written with an elegant bluntness, her article should be read by musicians in all countries and of all genres.

Ten Truths About the Modern Music Business, by Jason Feinberg on PBS.org.

The definition of Y in DIY needs to be stretched to include a team if artists intend on being successful by going it alone. There’s simply too much to be done. Other truths: keep an eye on your metrics at all times. Facebook is gaining on email as a band’s preferred communication tool. And someone in the band really needs to understand marketing.

Dream Big: How to Succeed in Today’s Volatile Music Biz, by Mike King on Berklee Music Blogs.

In an interview with American Songwriter’s Adam Gold, Mike King learns about the tricky business of developing a content release plan (hint: it’s not just about Facebook), the value of giving music away for free, digital royalties, and pitching to the industry.

How Do Musicians Really Earn a Living? on Live Unsigned Blog.

merch-tablesIt might be surprising, but for many musicians music is not the primary means of making money. Small wonder, then, why labels want in on merchandise sales. Making a living in the music business is tough, which is why most musicians rely on additional income streams, such as teaching music, playing in multiple bands, or running sound for other bands during gig downtime.

Playing Profitable Shows as a Band: The 25 Percent Rule, by David Roberts on Music Think Tank.

Roberts provides a good template for planning a profitable tour, suggesting budget guidelines for fuel and a (very austere) food budget. Most importantly, however, the band needs to budget for a 25 percent profit – no matter what.

Live Streaming’s Long Tail, by Cortney Harding on Hypebot.

Face it: tours are expensive, taking their toll both physically and fiscally. Live streaming a show is an option, although a slow-growing one. However, as Harding explains, live streams of shows can be profitable ventures when they target specific fan bases: cult followers, shut-ins (think thirtysomethings with kids), and casual fans who may not be willing to commit. (Note: check out stageit.com, a cool way to stream a show, collect a cover charge, and virtual tips, all on one website.)

Will An Internship Help Get a Job? by Katie Reilly on Intern Like a Rock Star.

Don’t count on it, says interning guru Katie Reilly. Better to use experience from an internship to get leads, to gain valuable experience, and to prove to others that you’re serious about working in the music industry.

The Digest is a weekly feature of the Sketchbook blog that provides an annotated listing of links to relevant articles about events, trends, people, and things that have a direct impact on us as musicians. If you find The Digest useful, or if you want to suggest improvements, please let me know. Also, if you have content you’d like to see included, please send a message via Twitter or Facebook. And share the love by passing The Digest on via email or social media.

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Image credits: Fiona Apple – http://www.philly.com; PSY – http://www.metrolyrics.com; Noisecreep merch table – http://www.noisecreep.com

The Digest, Volume 9

brubeck1

Remembering Dave Brubeck, by Jack Zahora on NPR.

The well-known jazz pianist, composer, band leader, and frequent flyer passed away  a day shy of his 92nd birthday. The man who taught the world that odd time signatures were a good thing was also a progressive when it came to civil rights: he refused to play in clubs that would not allow his African-American bass player inside. Click here for the 1999 Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross.

Why Do People Go to Gigs With Obscure Bands? on Live Unsigned Blog.

This article could be a primer on developing a following from the inside out. Work on growing yours by focusing on friends and family first, then have them help develop your fan base online. You’ll know you’ve made it when the bloggers and the press start showing up.

The Future of Digital, by Bob Lefsetz on The Lefsetz Letter.

Microsoft-unveils-Surface-tablets-611MSLFJ-x-largeBob Lefsetz found a cool slide deck from the folks at Business Insider. It’s a bit lengthy, but it does have some implications for those of us who put our music and music marketing online. Make sure your website looks good on a mobile device, because fewer and fewer of us will see it on an actual PC. According to BI, the bottom line is that as habits change, the money follows.

Eight Ways to Build Sustainable Music Careers, by Gerald Klickstein on The Musician’s Way.

Klickstein offers solid career advice in this short blog post, but it’s all gold and should be treated as such. Learn all you can about the music business, as it’s part of your career. Don’t put all of your money-making eggs in one basket – have multiple income streams. As Robert Sirota put it, “The most difficult thing about being a musician these days is not talent. It’s sustainability.” While you’re on his blog, spend some time checking out Klickstein’s Entrepreneurship category as well.

Ten Tips From the Gene Simmons School of Marketing, by Michael Brandvold on Michael Brandvold Marketing.

Put your name on everything. (KISS branded everything from toilet seats to caskets to diapers.) Look for opportunities. Get over your fear. And read the rest of Brandvold’s take on Gene’s entrepreneurship on the blog.

The Importance of Being a Frontman, by Jack Ryan on Music Clout.

Aerosmith-frontman-done-with-book“The depreciated value of being a frontman is clear to see in the hundreds of unsigned bands playing shy and reserved sets in little sheds across the country. The bands that are picked up by record labels are the ones that have a cult following, which can only be picked up by grabbing the audience by the throat, and letting them know they’ve been to a gig.”

Five Easy Ways To Get Last Minute Shows, on Grassrootsy.

If you’re on tour and trying to fill a gap that just won’t go away, try some of the suggestions offered by the folks at Grassrootsy. You could host an open mic, put out a Facebook question, or just busk on a corner. The post also has a good link to house concerts.

Musicians and Bands: Follow the Compass In Your Gut, by Derek Sivers on DIY Musician.

Do what excites you. Don’t do what drains you. The advice is simple, yet we let people talk us out of the former and into the latter all the time. When you start doing what makes you excited, you’ll be doing what you were meant to do.

The Importance of Album Track Order in the Digital Age, by Gary Trust on Billboard.biz.

Album track order has long been the domain of artists, who usually decided track order on personal feelings about the songs. Now, with digital distribution and associated payouts taking center stage, artists and labels are beginning to realize that the earlier a song appears on an album, the more likely a listener is to stream it. At the same time, a listener’s attention span may be even shorter than any artist wants to believe.

Trifonov’s Triumph: Tchaikovsky, Twice Over, by Anastasia Tsioulcas on NPR.

Trifonov_011Oddly enough, Daniil Trifonov began learning the piano because he wanted to be a composer, and he figured that knowing the keyboard would be useful in writing down the notes. Now, after taking top honors at both the Rubinstein and Tchaikovsky Competitions, he’s busy recording the notes that others have set down before him. Click here for a review by Melanie Spanswick of Trifonov’s ambitious and well-received recital at the Queen’s Hall as part of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival.

The Digest is a weekly feature of the Sketchbook blog that provides an annotated listing of links to relevant articles about events, trends, people, and things that have a direct impact on us as musicians. If you find The Digest useful, or if you want to suggest improvements, please let me know. Also, if you have content you’d like to see included, please send a message via Twitter or Facebook. And share the love by passing The Digest on via email or social media.

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Images: Dave Brubeck – brooklynvegan.com Microsoft Surface – usatoday.com Steven Tyler – upi.com Daniil Trifonov – daniiltrifonov.com

The Digest, Volume 8

The Digest is a weekly feature of the Sketchbook blog that provides an annotated listing of links to relevant articles about events, trends, people, and things that have a direct impact on us as musicians. If you find The Digest useful, or if you want to suggest improvements, please let me know. Also, if you have content you’d like to see included, please send a message via Twitter or Facebook. And share the love by passing The Digest on via email or social media.

Advice, by Bob Lefsetz on The Lefsetz Letter.

Bob Lefsetz, music business attorney and all-around music biz guru, publishes a great newsletter, and I urge all who are even remotely interested in music as a career to subscribe to it. “Advice” contains pearls of wisdom like focus on your fans, engage them on social media, post your shows on YouTube, and form good relationships. You’ll find no career shortcuts here, because there are none.

Songwriters’ Groups Speak Out on Internet Radio Bill, on ASCAP.com.

A joint letter to Congress from performing rights organizations ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and the NSAI claims the Internet Radio Fairness Act (the “Pandora Bill”) will harm songwriters by legitimizing the “gross inequities that have developed … as a result of opposing rate setting systems applied to the amounts paid to songwriters, composers and publishers versus those paid to record labels and recording artists.”

The Upside of Music Piracy, on Live Unsigned Blog.

If you can’t beat ’em, should you join ’em? Perhaps, according to some bands who have made new fans out of people who first heard their music from a burned CD or a bit torrent site. You can embrace Neil Young’s “new radio” and get more fans to your shows who will buy more merchandise. Is it more important to lose sales or gain fans?

Get Your Band Noticed On Music Blogs, by Clyde Smith on Hypebot.

Most bands only think about Twitter or Facebook when they hear the words “social media.” But music blogs are also excellent ways to cultivate new fans and retain the ones you’ve won over. Clyde Smith gives a few suggestions regarding how to connect with music bloggers and get them to write about you.

Planning the Perfect CD Release Gig, on Live Unsigned Blog.

The release party needs to be as good as the CD, and it should certainly reflect the time and energy you put into your creation. Consider booking a venue that will sell out – pictures taken there will look better than those of a dozen people standing around in a hall that will hold 300. Work the social media, and send out press releases in time. Read on for more great suggestions.

Tunecore, Artists Release CD; Hurricane Sandy Victims Benefit, on Tunecore.

After the Storm includes tracks by Andrew Belle, jackopierce, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Thousand Foot Krutch, The Parlotones and Rosie Thomas, as well as submissions from bands in Ireland, Russia, and Germany. One hundred percent of the album’s net proceeds will benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

An Interview With Classical Pianist Nick van Bloss, by Melanie Spanswick on Classical Mel’s Piano and Music Education Blog.

Pianist and music educator Melanie Spanswick recently interviewed British concert pianist Nick van Bloss. In recent years van Bloss has come out of retirement from the concert stage, and he has released recordings of Bach’s Goldberg Variations and Keyboard Concertos on Nimbus Records.

Musician Business Cards, by David J. Hahn on Musician Wages.

Success in the music business hinges on the quality of one’s contacts, and a business card is a great way to start that relationship. Serving as inexpensive, pocket-size billboards, business cards announce who you are, what you do, and how someone can get in touch with you. You know what should go on one, but Hahn goes one better with some stunning examples.

Ten Reasons Why Your Facebook Fans Hate You, by Chris Robley on DIY Musician Blog.

Hint: it ain’t because of a lack of Facebook users. Odds are your content isn’t reaching out and grabbing anyone. Or you may be live tweeting your life with updates every 20 seconds with stuff folks just don’t want to know. Or you’re too negative. Or you’re doing any of the other annoying things on Robley’s list. Stop it. Just stop it. Now.

Home Recording Studio Success, by David Cutler on The Savvy Musician Blog.

There are many benefits to a good home studio, guest blogger Barry Gardner writes. It’s cheaper than studio time (if you know what you’re doing), you have the flexibility to try things you’d never have time for otherwise, and you pick up some new skills along the way. The article is a good introduction to recording for those who are considering the investment, and it addresses key considerations for equipping a studio.

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Photo credits: Treble Clef – my.opera.com; Captain Jack Sparrow – thehookupic.com; Hurricane Sandy damage – businessinsider.com; home studio – Robert W. Oliver

The Digest, Volume 7

The Digest is a weekly feature of the Sketchbook blog that provides an annotated listing of links to relevant articles about events, trends, people, and things that have a direct impact on us as musicians. If you find The Digest useful, or if you want to suggest improvements, please let me know. Also, if you have content you’d like to see included, please send a message via Twitter or Facebook. And share the love by passing The Digest on via email or social media.

MusiCares Offers Relief for Musicians Victimized by Hurricane Sandy, by Katie Reilly, Intern Like a Rockstar.

MusicCares, an organization benefiting musicians since 1989, works year round to provide “a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need.” Recently they announced a new fund aimed at helping musicians who were affected by Hurricane Sandy. The fund provides the for basics, such as clothing and shelter, and for musical instrument and recording equipment replacement. Katie’s post has links for assistance application and for fund donations.

Lars Ulrich: Meet The New Boss, Worse Than The Old Boss, The Trichordist.

Charlie Rose featured guests Lars Ulrich of Metallica and Chuck D from Public Enemy in 2000 to discuss Napster, the internet and the future of the music industry. Chuck D saw a bright, sunny future for music sales. Lars saw the darker side of the then fledgling medium, one in which millions of artists, musicians, photographers, authors, writers and other creators would have their living illegally appropriated by internet robber barons.

New MySpace Too Good to be True? by Jennifer Van Grove, The Washington Post.

Designed for artists and their fans, the new MySpace, is not a redesign. It’s a new product with a new purpose and a design meant to evoke emotion. MySpace wants to draw people away from a “boring internet” and into relationships with creatives and the content they produce.

Unpaid DIY Music “Competitive Advantage” For New MySpace, by Bruce Houghton, Hypebot.

Over five million artists, most of them unsigned, have uploaded 27 million songs to the social media site, accounting for half of the music played there. MySpace hopes to use this advantage to help them offset a projected revenue shortfall, or in other words, balance the books on the backs of the unsigned artists. Predictably, MySpace doesn’t see it that way, suggesting instead that they’re helping “artists … foster … unique relationships with their fans.”

Music Career Killers: Sure Ways to Ruin Your Chances For Success, by The DIY Musician.

Feel like you don’t have time to work on your music because you’re spending all your time marketing it? That’s an excellent way to ruin the career you’re trying so hard to start. Boring your fans and taking crap gigs on the offhand chance that they’ll yield one more fan are career killers, too.

Why Piracy Isn’t the Music Industry’s Biggest Threat, by Mike Doughty, Immutable/Inscrutable.

“Dear music industry,” writes musician Mike Doughty, “there are some amazing middle-aged artists. There’s loads of genuinely NEW artists who are in their 40s, and they would be loved by people with money to spend. Oh, PS, you guys really, really need money right now.” He goes on to suggest some great ways to widen one’s audience with older listeners who really want to go to the shows.

Pianos Aren’t a Center of Attention Anymore, by William Loeffler, TribLive.

It’s a pity the pro-life movement doesn’t extend to pianos. The Great Recession and associated economic downturn forced cuts in music education programs nationwide, thus cutting into sales of new pianos. Add to that the surge of interest in less expensive digital pianos, and it’s no surprise that some older acoustics find their way into landfills. Fortunately, there’s pianoadoption.com.

How to Help Protect Your Health as a Musician, by Barry Gardner, Musician Wages.

Whether you’re on tour or in the studio, your life as a musician definitely comes with physical stresses that can affect your health. Gardner offers a few suggestions that can help keep you healthy and in front of the crowds.

Doing a Holiday CD? Know Who Owns the Copyright, by Music Clout.

It’s tough to go wrong with a CD of Christmas tunes. They only have a limited, seasonal appeal, but once everyone’s in the mood for decking the halls, they’ll be in demand. Most classics are in the public domain, but you’ll want to do your homework to make sure you’re not stepping on some toes.

Why You Should Think Twice Before Saying Yes to a Gig, by Geraldine Boyer-Cussac, The Successful Musician.

It may be difficult for a lot of musicians to turn down a gig, especially those who are just starting out and need the exposure. Yet Dr. Boyer-Cussac reviews four situations when you should just say no, the main one being if you don’t know exactly how much you’ll get paid.

The Digest, Volume 6

The Digest is a weekly feature of the Sketchbook blog that provides an annotated listing of links to relevant articles about events, trends, people, and things that have a direct impact on us as musicians. If you find The Digest useful, or if you want to suggest improvements, please let me know. Also, if you have content you’d like to see included, please send a message via Twitter or Facebook. And share the love by passing The Digest on via email or social media.

71 Percent of Indie Artist Still Want a Label Deal, by Paul on Digital Music News.

There’s a lot of romance involved in being an independent artist, but that may be easy to forget while the indie artist plans tours, designs and orders merchandise, pays for CD duplication, and handles publicity. Oh, and some new songs need to be written, too. Yes, most of us long for a major label to come along and save the day.

Five Things All Musicians Need Before Starting a Digital PR Campaign, by John Ostrow on Music Think Tank.

If you want to have a successful PR campaign (such as one for Kickstarter), make sure you have music ready to release, a professional bio and photo, a niche, and a strong social media presence.

Entertain or Go Home: Is The Music Enough? by Eric Bruckbauer on How to Run a Band.

Eric states what should be an obvious truth: “People go to shows to have a good time and to be entertained. It’s that simple.” Yet some bands don’t understand that they’re in the entertainment business. In order to succeed, you have to do what KISS did so well: engage the audience while setting the band apart from the rest.

What To Know About Management Contracts, by Francis McEntegart on Music Think Tank.

Make sure to choose a manager that understands the music business and how it works, and make sure that he couples that knowledge with plenty of good contacts that respect him. Be clear on what his twenty percent will buy, and get your own attorney to review the agreement before you sign.

Four Things To Be Aware Of Before Signing With a Music Manager on Music Clout.

Know what you’ll pay this person. Expect to pay a percentage of your earnings, but beware the manager who asks you to pay up front for his or her representation. Also check out his history and reputation. A little due diligence goes a long way.

The Next Music Revolution by Alex Hoffman on Hypebot.

Sensory information already gathered about us by our smartphones can be paired with third-party data, creating a new culture driven by context, wherein experiences and recommendations can be automatically catered to us. Instead of manually tapping to set our Android’s alarm at bedtime, it be will able to infer from our Google Calendar appointments and Google Maps traffic data just how long we need to commute to make our first meeting on time and wake us accordingly. Will this revolution be televised? If our smartphones think it should be.

Ten Tips to Improve Your Recordings, on Music Clout.

Practice, practice, practice. You might get lucky on the first take, but don’t count on it. Get plenty of rest the night before. Bring spares – cables, strings, picks, drum heads, whatever. Take frequent breaks to avoid ear fatigue – this can be costly in terms of studio time. And remember, you can never fix it in the mix.

Less Is More, by Janet Horvath on Playing Less Hurt

The Summer Olympics gave musician, author, and speaker Janet Horvath an opportunity to reflect on how athletes prepare themselves for the highly competitive games, and in what ways musicians are kindred spirits to them. Many musicians are guilty of, at one time or another, driving themselves to the point of exhaustion. “We too need to be reminded that our bodies must be recharged,” she writes, “in order for us to be able to execute intricate, complex maneuvers day after day.”

Music Industry Careers for Shy People, by Katie Reilly on Intern Like a Rock Star.

So belting out a ballad in front of a stadium full of people isn’t your idea of a music career? Fear not – Katie Reilly has a solution. Marketing, finance, accounting, law, and sound are all areas that are in heavy demand within the music industry, but these don’t make heavy demands on you to put yourself in front of thousands of strangers week after week.

Book Review: The Savvy Musician, by David J. Hahn on Musician Wages.

Hahn notes that Dr. David Cutler’s The Savvy Musician is a book for the modern musician, offering a detailed, thoughtful map to a meaningful career in the business, all the while stressing that a musician can build a career for himself anywhere. This book is a must-read for any working musician, or anyone serious about becoming one.

The Digest: Volume 5

The Digest is a weekly feature of the Sketchbook blog that provides an annotated listing of links to relevant articles about events, trends, people, and things that have a direct impact on us as musicians. If you find The Digest useful, or if you want to suggest improvements, please let me know. Also, if you have content you’d like to see included, please send a message via Twitter or Facebook and let me know that as well. And share the love by passing The Digest on via email or social media.

Elliott Carter, Modernist Composer, Dies At 103, by Tom Huizenga on NPR Music.

Carter’s music, write Huizenga, was championed by many of the world’s great orchestras and conductors. Not limited to classical music, the composer also penned songs, opera and chamber music, the latter earning him Pulitzer Prizes for his string quartets in 1960 and 1973.

What’s the Real Cost of Signing a Major Record Deal? on Music Clout.

Willing to exchange a bigger cut of your future royalties for getting your music “out there”? You’d be surprised how many new artists are willing to sign a Faustian contract with a major label for just that reason. It’s not that the majors are to be avoided, but keep in mind that most new artists make absolutely no money from royalties until they’ve recouped their promo budget.

Johnny Cash Box Set Honors the Man In Black, by Steve Jones on USA Today.

Just in time for holiday giving – a new, 63 CD box set of Johnny Cash’s recordings. Johnny Cash: The Complete Columbia Album Collection will set you back $230, but it includes 35 albums on CD for the first time and original LP artwork.

How I Made $13,544 In A Month (on Kickstarter), by Ari Herstand on TuneCore Blog.

Kickstarter? Oh, sure, everyone’s heard of that. Sign up, launch your campaign, and make tons of money Amanda Palmer style – right? Not exactly. That’s the theory, but as Ari Herstand explains, it’s much more involved if you want to do it right and have a successful campaign. Don’t neglect the video or do a bad one, and do keep your fans engaged on social media before, during, and after the drive. Most importantly, remember that careful planning pays off. This one’s a must read.

Improving Your Live Show, by Rick Goetz on Musician Coaching.

Rick’s interview with Amy Wolter reveals some pretty easy things we can do to make our live shows better and more engaging. First, says Wolter, don’t feel like your songs need to sound exactly like the record. After you get into that mindset, you need to plan what you’re going to do during the show after you’ve rehearsed the songs.

Forbes Names Top Six Grossing Dead Musicians, by Bruce Houghton on Hypebot.

Here’s a hint as to number 1: his initials are MJ. The King is probably annoyed at that.

Get Your Music Used in Film, TV, & Ads, by George Howard on TuneCore Blog.

The video goes into greater detail, but highlights include getting to know music supervisors. Visit universities where budding filmmakers are getting started and offer a free score. Also, create something to show & post it to YouTube. Work at getting a buzz going around it. Then find out who the players are.

Musicians, 77 Percent of Your Fans Prefer Email Marketing, by Chris Robley on DIY Musician Blog.

Not only does e-mail beat all comers as the preferred channel for getting marketing messages, it also drives more consumer purchasing than any other channel. This finding by ExactTarget suggests that you start sending out those old-fashioned emails if you want more album sales and folks at your shows.

Start Your Teaching Business in 30 Days, by Greg Arney on Musicians Wages.

Ever wonder what it would be like to teach music lessons from your home? Maybe you want to do it but don’t know how to set up a studio. Fear not – Greg Arney outlines a 30-day, comprehensive blueprint on getting up and running as a private music instructor. From deciding where and how much, to writing your policy, to setting up a website, just about every detail you’ll need to address is covered.

Marketing for Musicians: Sell What You Love, by Marcome on Marcome Blog & News.

Canadian new age artist Marcome wears many hats: composer, keyboardist, vocalist, arranger, recording engineer, and producer. And when she’s not doing that, she’s busy marketing her albums. In this article Marcome pauses to share some  things that have helped her get the word out about her music, such as creating great music, developing a mailing list, selling the music, and not giving up.

How Much Will You Pay For Music in 2013 (Infographic)? on D Wave.

There are over 500 music services on the internet and over 600 million people worldwide using those services. Still, the amount you’ll likely pay to hear music from your favorite artist may surprise you.

How To Establish Yourself as a Jerk in the Indie Music Scene, by Normandie Wilson on Music Clout.

Being a complete jerk isn’t a skill one picks up automatically after attaining the national spotlight. No, these skills are learned and practiced on the hard climb up. We’ve all known bands that run way over their time limit on a twin or triple bill, and we’ve probably seen a few who have disrespected the audience at one time or another. Here’s what not to do if you want to keep playing in the sandbox.