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What Artists Should Know About AudioKite

Has this ever happened to you? You think you’ve written your best song yet, but an offhand remark from a friend plunges you into self-doubt. Wouldn’t it help to have feedback from music fans of your genre who have no incentive to sugar-coat their opinions?

Sure, you say! I’ll just use SoundOut, or ReverbNation Crowd Review (also powered by SoundOut). Unfortunately, my experience with SoundOut, and those of most of the commenters, left a lot to be desired. I’ve also received a mostly useless – but free – focus group from Music Xray, and even repurposed Jango aka Radio Airplay to create my own focus group.

AudioKite has built a better mousetrap. Here’s why:

Amazon Mechanical Turk. Listeners are enlisted from Amazon Mechanical Turk rather than SliceThePie, the listener end of SoundOut. I don’t know the nuts and bolts of the operation, but the end result is that listeners comment coherently and seem to actually listen to the whole song. There’s no sign that anyone is trying to game the system by listening to only the first minute and copy/pasting generic reviews.

I asked Alex of AudioKite to explain how they ensure listeners are actually listening. Here’s what he had to say:

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What Artists Should Know About ArtistLink

ArtistLink started as an extension of the Topspin Media platform, so that non-Topspin users could add content to the MTV Artists site. It’s well on its way to becoming the control panel for the music industry.

I encourage any artist with a release on Spotify to sign up for ArtistLink. All essential functionality is free.

As of this writing, ArtistLink is basically four services rolled up into one. I’ll go over each, starting with the coolest.

Spotify

If you take a look at my Spotify profile on the desktop app or web player, you’ll see I’m selling stuff! Right there on Spotify! For free! Spotify doesn’t take a cut.

Spotify merch

Even better, I’m selling from my own site!

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You can add up to three promotions, directing each to the URL of your choice. For now, they only appear on the desktop app and web player – not the mobile apps.

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Top 10 Music Promotion Posts of 2013

2013 was a slow year for Passive Promotion, because I was too busy with this, this, and this to write. For the most part, I focused on creation rather than promotion. Next year I’ll have two EPs and a full-length Color Theory album to promote, and you can bet I’ll be sharing my methods and results with you here.

While I didn’t write too much over the past year, I did read a whole lot! Here are my top 10 music promotion posts of 2013, in reverse chronological order, based on how useful I found them for my particular needs and circumstances:

The Indie Musician’s Guide to Digital Distribution

Wax On, Wax Off Guide to Starting from Scratch on Twitter

8 Effective Email Marketing Strategies, Backed by Science

The 7 Biggest, Counterintuitive Social Media Mistakes You May be Making

The Ultimate Guide to Band Merchandise

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The Art of the Niche Music Video

I had the pleasure of working with Matthew Myers on the soon-to-be-released Just Dance Kids 3 video game. As I got to know him and his music, I was blown away by the response to his highly targeted YouTube videos. This recent comment from darksilver1200 sums it up perfectly:

“I feel sorry for all NON-otaku fans. They just don’t understand what it means to love anime and gaming with every fiber of your entire being and soul. I on the other hand, am a full blood otaku through and through. I love all anime, games, and others of this sort. LeetStreet boys, actually, if you listen to the lyrics of the song, have meaning deep down in the otaku heart.”

I’m a gamer and anime fan myself, yet half of the references are over my head! I asked Matt if he would be so kind as to explain how he pulls this stuff off, and the result is this guest post. -Brian.

Making music videos has changed my life. In 2007, I wrote a catchy song about my love of anime and video game fandom. I hired a freelance animator and the music video we created for “Yuri The Only One” was a runaway hit in 2008. It has since garnered over 1.5 million YouTube views, been played at festivals worldwide, enabled my band to headline events across North America as a musical guest, sold out of an album print run, and generated tens of thousands of digital sales.

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How to Comp Vocals in Ableton Live

I’m long overdue for a music promotion post, but even more overdue for a new Color Theory release! Once I wrap up my next EP, I’ll turn my focus back to promotion, and of course share my efforts and results.

In the meantime, I’d like to address a common concern for Ableton Live users: how do I comp vocals?

Ableton Live

As a mastering engineer, I talk with lots of musicians about which DAWs they use for what. Everybody who uses Live loves it, but they usually record and assemble (“comp”) vocals in Logic or Cubase, export the comped vocals as .wav or AIFF files, and import those files into Live.

While I also prefer to work on vocals in a separate project, I do it all in Live. Here’s how:

1. Create a new project. Set the BPM and drag your cue mix (what you’ll sing over) into the arrangement window at bar 1. Because I record vocals with closed headphones, which overemphasize low frequencies, I insert a low cut on the cue mix. Not only does it protect my hearing, but it focuses my pitch. An improperly tuned kick drum can throw off your tonal center.

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The Weekly Batch

Musicians are expected to be everywhere these days. We’re interacting on social networks, following up on blog comments, keeping our profiles on countless music sites up to date, and checking our stats and analytics with a variety of online tools. It’s enough to make a lifelong indie yearn for a label – one with a marketing department!

Most of these items don’t need to be addressed daily, but they do need to be performed on a regular basis. Tasks that have to be done on a given day, I schedule. Everything else is relegated to The Weekly Batch™ (note: not actually trademarked). I tackle the entire list as a single to-do item on Friday afternoons, when I find it hard to do much of anything else.

Here’s my latest iteration:

1. File Maintenance

  • Archive completed projects to my FTP server
  • Empty my downloads folder
  • Clean out my Dropbox

2. Mailing List

Export new email addresses from Bandcamp, Earbits, Jango (now called Radio Airplay), ReverbNation, and NoiseTrade, and import them to FanBridge.

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YouTube’s Dirty Little Secret

Ever spotted a terrible video on YouTube with an inconceivably high view count? Of course you have. Would it make you feel better knowing that most of those “views” were completely automated and only lasted 30 seconds with the sound turned off?

Vagex (referral link), a hugely popular YouTube exchange platform, is largely to blame. Credits are so cheap that members sell 2000 views for $5 on eBay and Fiverr and still turn a profit. As countless “buy YouTube views” sites testify, the views are by real people, mostly in the US. Not the sort of people who actually watch the videos, much less pay for music, but they tend to leave that bit out.

If $5 is too rich for your blood, you can earn credits by downloading one of their free viewers and letting it “watch” videos for you in the background.

Firefox Viewer

If you don’t have any videos of your own to promote, you can sell your credits back to Vagex directly. The current exchange rate is 26,730 credits for $1. That doesn’t cover the electricity cost of generating those credits, but clearly people are willing to do it, or the exchange rate would be more favorable.

Since the videos aren’t actually watched, the views themselves won’t generate new fans, but…

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"Set it and forget it" music promotion