Tag Archives: music industry

Beats Music — A Music Streaming Service With Soul

Beats MusicSince signing up for the Beats Music app last month, I’ve experienced a boost in music knowledge, a renewed passion for music discovery, and an ability to connect with artists, producers, audio engineers, industry tastemakers, and friends in a way never realized with other music streaming services.

First thing’s first,–let’s get this out of the way. Some of you may know that I’m employed by the company I’m writing about today. But hear me out. I work for Beats Music because they provide a service I believe in. And I write this blog to share my beliefs with you. Besides, you and I both know Blue House Records doesn’t pull the kind of web traffic to get paid for this kind of thing (womp womp).

So what follows is an honest review of a music streaming service that I believe is changing the game, and I hope you’ll take the time to learn about it. Beats Music has helped me become a better musician, engineer and music professional. Here’s how:

Music Discovery Engage!
I listen to a lot of music, and I love it. It’s no surprise — my job revolves around music, and so do most of my hobbies. But I recently found myself at a crossroads. I had hit a music discovery dead end prior to subscribing to Beats Music. I was a subscriber to several music streaming services at the time, with thousands of songs that I had painstakingly arranged in an obsessive fashion — playlists compiled from years of research, experience, and exposure to the music industry. But even after all this work, I was still missing out on a crucial part of listening to music: discovering new stuff. As a musician, audio engineer, and music industry dude, I needed to stay up on the new and a desire to rediscover the classic tracks of the past. I needed a change.

Enter Beats Music. With scary accurate recommendations on the “Just For You” page, Beats Music suggested artists and albums I’d never considered listening to, and curated playlists full of new and old school jams that felt like I had handpicked it.

These curated playlists, built by real life music experts housed at the Beats Music HQ, are a great way to dive into new genres, eras, and music styles. “Intro To” playlists provide an overview of an artist’s best work, giving you a quick and easy way to listen to an artist’s most popular work. “Deep Cuts” provides a look at the obscure tracks, great for the die hard fans who get sick of hearing singles repeated every day on the radio.

cropped-gedc0951.jpgGimme That Background Info!
Discovering new music is about more than hearing new songs. It’s also about getting to know the artists behind the music. Beats Music goes a long way to help listeners learn about the artists, composers, and producers they’re listening to. Whether you’re an audio engineer interested in the technical aspects of the music, an artist interested in influences and song writing style, or a fan who likes to stay informed — Beats Music offers an extensive resource for connecting the dots between artist history, music styles, influences, and bodies of work. For instance, here’s an excerpt as seen on the album page for Brothers, a 2010 release by the Black Keys:

“Retreating from the hazy Danger Mouse-fueled pot dream of Attack & Release, the Black Keys headed down to the legendary Muscle Shoals, recording their third album on their own and dubbing it Brothers.

Sonically, that scuffed-up spaciness — the open air created by the fuzz guitars and phasing, analog keyboards, and cavernous drums — is considerably appealing, but the Black Keys’ ace in the hole remains the exceptional songwriting that Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are so good at. They twist a Gary Glitter stomp into swamp fuzz blues, steal a title from Archie Bell & the Drells but never reference that classic Tighten Up groove, and approximate a slow ‘60s soul crawl on “Unknown Brother” before following it up with a version of Jerry Butler’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and it’s nearly impossible to tell which is the cover.” ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

This is brilliant for two reasons: a) I’m discovering great new music everyday that I would have never come across otherwise, and b) I’m being exposed to the stories, and details behind the music — real music literature that connects fans and artists alike on an awesome level.

Beastie Boys: Deep CutsDon’t Get Played Out – “Deep Cuts”
For the curious listeners, the die hard fans, those looking for more depth, these playlists contain the gems not heard on your local radio station, a collection of tracks that show another side of the artists you love. My first exposure to this feature was the Beastie Boys: Deep Cuts playlist, mixing old school goods with the more recent jams that flow seamlessly from beginning to end.

Jack White: Influences“Yo Jack White, Who Ya Listening To?”
What influence did punk music have on The Strokes? Where did M83 pull that massive 80s pop/synth sound from? What folk music should I listen to if I want to figure out where Jack White gets his riffs and songwriting style? “Influences” playlists provide these answers and more, giving the listener a comprehensive look into what made our favorite artists who they are.

Forget Singles, We Want Albums!
An album is a musical story, with a beginning, a climax, and an end. Twists and turns that spark your emotions, provoke your thoughts, connect with you in a unique way. The digital revolution brought more focus to the single, removing much of the heart and soul that generations of years past enjoyed through vinyl, cassette tape, and CD. Many of us have fallen into this trap, accepting what is given to us from top 40 radio stations, nightclubs, TV, restaurants, and everything in between. We’ve been missing out on the depth and emotion inherent in the full-length album.

Beats Music has designed a platform that offers the functionality and selectivity of other services, the ability to select from “Top Songs” and singles as you wish, but also encourages the listener to enjoy music from a broader spectrum. The “About” section tends to focus more on the core concept and style of an album. The artist’s cover artwork is visible throughout as you scroll through artist pages. Most full-length albums have a unique and thought-provoking story behind them. And maybe most notable, the “Essentials” feature provides a look into the records that changed the game for certain artists; what Nevermind did for Nirvana, what Reasonable Doubt did for JAY Z, and what Under The Table And Dreaming did for Dave Matthews Band.

The Music Industry 411
Beats Music is more than a streaming service — it’s a music company from top to bottom, founded by legendary producer and entrepreneur Jimmy Iovine and hip-hop icon Dr Dre, headed by CEO Ian Rogers (Beastie Boys, Topspin Media). Throw in a creative team led by award winning musician and composer Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails, The Social Network) and you’ve got a house full of music heads.

These folks know their stuff, and realize the importance of putting the fans and the artists first. For example, Beats Music is the only streaming service out there that pays independent artists the same as the majors — one of the many ways Beats Music adds confidence and a sense of pride to the music streaming business. This cohesive goal is part of what motivated me to move out of the agency, promoter and management world and join Beats Music.

How To Sign Up!
Interested listeners can sign up for a free 7-day trial by heading over to www.beatsmusic.com. AT&T users are eligible to receive an extended trial. More info available here: www.beatsmusic.com/pricing

Have you had a similar experience with music streaming services? Have you tried Beats Music? Hit me up with any questions or comments; I would love to hear your feedback.

Keep it funky,
TAT

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Get LOUD! How Do I Promote My Music?

bonnaroo_2008_crowdDIY Music Marketing
The #1 question we hear from artists today is “How can I promote my music to reach more fans?”. Maybe you’re a performing musician looking to get more fans to your gig, or you’ve got some great music up on your webpage but are having trouble directing traffic and gaining unique visitors. This post is for YOU!

The truth is there is no one universal trick to increasing your audience. You have to think like a marketer who is selling a product, and determine exactly who your buyer will be and what their particular needs are. Yes, it can be deflating to think about words like “sell” and “product” when you just want to be creative, lay down epic tracks and party, but if you’re looking to grow your audience yourself, something that is essentially a requirement at this juncture in the music business, you will have to learn to think from the point of view of the music fan and develop a plan to speak directly to your unique audience.

Below are some tips on just how to get started learning and speaking to your audience.

Get Informed!
Know your audience, all the way down to their age, gender, location, where they shop, what websites they visit, what they do for fun, and of course, what they listen to. Check out some more established artists that are similar in sound and lyrical style to your own. Research their fans, take note of fan comments on Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets, focus on what drives them to stay locked in to this particular artist, and what the artist does to keep them coming back for more.

Find out where your audience hangs out, shops, discovers music and culture, and where they attend concerts. Work your tail off to get your music in these places, whether you’re booking 30 minutes as a supporting act, working with a local business to get your music on their website, or working out a consignment deal to get your music in their stores. Putting in the work necessary to learn who your audience is, and then focusing efforts on these areas will greatly enhance your chances of developing your fan base.

Get Creative!
Facebook event notification? Yay… Venue flyer? Hooray… These methods are old and tired. Most folks click close or ignore before they even see the event description, especially if you’re a developing artist. Take a stab at some more creative promotional ideas. We’re not saying you have to pull a “Kanye” and project your face up on buildings in 60+ cities, but do something to draw attention and get folks talking about you and your music. Below are some ideas we came up with on the fly:

  • Recruit some friends to post concert promo flyers (or share a social media post) with their names on them around town, directing fans to bring flyers to the show for free entry, a CD, t-shirt, or poster. Reward the friend with the most flyers (or most retweets/likes) turned in with an awesome prize, maybe a hug or high five? Perfect!
  • Partner with a local business to exchange promotional efforts. Mention their name in your flyer or at your show in exchange for music play or product placement in their store.
  • Organize a fundraiser to support your favorite charity, invite other local musicians to perform and combine marketing efforts to reach a wider audience, increasing participation in the fundraiser and ultimately growing your fan base.
  • Infiltrate your local radio station and force them to play your record all Airheads style. Just kidding, don’t do that. (if you haven’t seen this movie we can’t be friends)

Get to work on some ideas of your own! What do you have to lose? You’re an independent artist with no commitment to anyone, start acting like it and take some chances!

Be Yourself!
We know this sounds cliche, but it’s important to connect with fans on a personal level. Give your fans something to relate to, publish content (video, blog, twitter, etc.) about what influences you to write or perform, where you find creative inspiration, what interests you outside of music. When a fan reaches out, respond promptly and professionally, and thank them literally thousands of times. This is the seed that grows your music tree. (haha silly)

A typical misconception made by musicians, and brands for that matter, is you can’t be successful unless you are liked by anyone and everyone. This is untrue, many professionals make a great living marketing to those who love them for who they are and what they do. Focus on what makes you great, speak directly to your audience, and realize the benefits of fan loyalty. Erika Napoletano, rockstar author, has a great book on this concept called The Power of Unpopular. Check it out!

Most importantly, make music everyday, and keep it funky. Unless your music style isn’t funk, then you would keep it bluesy, or jazzy, or rocky, or hippity hoppity?

Peace out,
TAT

References:
All You Need to Know About the Music Business by Donald Passman
Music Marketing: Press, Promotion, Distribution, and Retail by Mike King
The Power of Unpopular by Erika Napoletano