These days, when you are talking to one person, you are talking to a thousand

“These days, when you are talking to one person, you are talking to a thousand”

This quote is from chapter 4 in the Netflix original series House of Cards. When Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) the reporter at The Washington Herald gets fired, she tells her boss this after he calls her a cunt. She immediately tweeted about the incident and afterwards things are not looking too bright for her old boss.

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This is of course put in a dramatic context as this is taken from a TV (or maybe Internet) drama, but it says a lot of how powerful social media can be as well as how fast messages spreads on the Internet. How much catchment, or the impact the message will have depends on how many it reaches (how many follows you, retweets etc).

A good example of how social media works in relation to this is how much faster news is being spread through Twitter during natural disasters compared to other social media platforms, or even news channels such as Reuters, CNN etc.

Another example is how I used my social media network to make things right after a misquotation in the Danish press a while back. When I discovered the fact that the journalist from Politiken totally had misunderstood me during the interview, I wrote a blog post re-explaining my point of view. I then posted a link to the blog post on Twitter, Facebook etc. This was further shared amongst my followers. Although I have to admit I did a whole lot more than just posting my blog post on social media channels, the bottom line is that through social media we have a powerful way of talking back (but then we have to take catchment into consideration – stuff like this does not necessarily have an effect if we shout out in an empty room). The original article was edited the morning after and if it wasn´t for my online network I would not have been able to talk back as quickly as I did.

But back to the original quote: ”These days, when you are talking to one person, you are talking to a thousand”.

Not only do we have to consider how powerful social media can be to spread messages through the Internet, we also have to consider how we act in our daily life as things might get ugly online. What we do offline might lead to great consequences due to online spread, as well as when used correctly social media can be a great tool to set things straight.

 

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My so-called online life

I´m spending the Sunday preparing slides for a lecture on social media marketing at HINT and I came to think of one part in Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow:

“(…) I´d been knocked offline before, though not in fifty years, and often as not the system righted itself after a good night´s sleep. I could visit the doctor in the morning if things were still screwy.”

This is the main character Julius after he got knocked offline. The book takes place in the 22nd century and everyone is of-course constantly online (Internet is integrated in their bodies). But it also occurred to me that this is pretty much the case today. I mean, just think of it. How much time do you spend online browsing through FB status updates etc and how frustrating isn’t it when you get knocked offline?

It´s all a bit screwy I think ;)

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Availability is king – Music streaming service as described in Little Brother (published 2007)

Finally had time to start using my Kindle this Christmas and I decided to break it in by checking out something by Cory Doctorow. Based on a recommendation I received long time ago I have had his first novel “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom” on top of my Amazon wish list for a very long time.

But unfortunately the book was not available for purchase as the publication date here all of a sudden was January 31, 2013. Is not it typical? When it comes to online content I, as pretty much any consumer, want what I want when I want it – not on January 31 – or any other release date for that matter. “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom” has been out in Canada since 2003. It should be available for me on my Kindle in 2012.

But luckily, as Cory Doctorow release everything under the Creative Commons license, I was able to download a version for free on the author´s own website. While I was there I also decided to check out his first young adult novel “Little Brother“, which actually was the book I ended up reading this Christmas.

LIttle Brother by Cory Doctorow

Long story short: I really enjoyed reading Little Brother. It made me sort of wish this book would have been available for me when I was a teenager, but it was also a very good read even though I´m no longer a young adult. As a very passionate business analyst for a music streaming service (yup, that´s what I do for a living), I especially found this part of the book to be very amusing (in a good and impressive way considering the fact that this book was written as well as published in 2007):

indienet — all lower case, always — was the thing that made Pigspleen Net into one of the most successful independent ISPs in the world. Back when the major record labels started suing their fans for downloading their music, a lot of the independent labels and their artists were aghast. How can you make money by suing your customers?

Pigspleen’s founder had the answer: she opened up a deal for any act that wanted to work with their fans instead of fighting them. Give Pigspleen a license to distribute your music to its customers and it would give you a share of the subscription fees based on how popular your music was. For an indie artist, the big problem isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity: no one even cares enough about your tunes to steal ‘em.

It worked. Hundreds of independent acts and labels signed up with Pigspleen, and the more music there was, the more fans switched to getting their Internet service from Pigspleen, and the more money there was for the artists. Inside of a year, the ISP had a hundred thousand new customers and now it had a million — more than half the broadband connections in the city.

That was (legally speaking) futuristic back in 2007, but pretty much a reality already in 2008 – although it sort of wasn´t mainstream in Scandinavia before 2010, and music streaming/all you can eat music services is still on an early stage in North America as well as Scandinavia.

The music industry, however, has come a bit further compared to the book industry when it comes to making sure everything is legally available for the end consumer through the same service (“the more music there was, the more fans switched to getting their Internet service from Pigspleen” – a scenario illustrating the importance of musicians being available on music streaming services as well as authors/publishers selling their books on the Kindle store and similar services). Luckily the book industry have writers such as Cory Doctorow – just as the music industry is lucky to have musicians as well as label reps understanding the new music economy.

The end of this “Little Brother-streaming-service” story is that I have already pre-ordered the follow up book “Homeland”, making sure it will be auto-delivered to my Kindle on February 5, 2013. And even though everything is available for free on his website I am definitely planning on purchasing many more books by Cory Doctorow (I´m hereby a fan). This is how the economy of “free” works.

And what can we learn from this? Well, availability definitely is king! And the way I see it, one may say that my first Kindle experience illustrates that in a very good way :-)

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Merry Christmas

Hello and merry Christmas. This year has been extremely busy, but at the same time very exciting. The move to Oslo turned out to be great.

I am very happy about my work situation as well as we have a lot of great friends in this town. Therefore a lot of great things has happened this year and a lot of cool things will definitely go down next year too.

Not so much more to say other than I would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas with this video of the song “Santa Couldn´t Make It This Year” by my wife Stina Stjern. The song is about everyone not able to celebrate Christmas like “most people” in the western world. Actually my wife made me very proud (and humble) a couple of weeks ago when I came home from work and she told us to go out and shop for Christmas presents for Fattighuset. And so we did. A very good deed I hope to make a tradition the coming years.

Well, enjoy Christmas, enjoy this video and let´s not forget everyone not being able to celebrate Christmas the way they want to.

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In Adresseavisen

I had the pleasure of speaking at Midtnorsk Musikkmesse Nov 4 2012. After my presentation Adresseavisen had a chat with Simen Idsøe Eidsvåg from HES and me as a representative from WiMP. We talked about streaming and the many marketing and PR opportunities artists have nowadays.

Check out a pdf of the article here or click the image for a big jpg.

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Article in Sandnesposten

Me (to the right) in Shevils at SÅ Festival 2012. FOTO: Kamilla Kvamme

I´ve been very busy since we moved to Norway and I have therefore not been able to keep this website up to date by posting on a weekly or even a monthly basis. Not sure what to do about that moving forward, but I am pretty sure I will figure something out (but it will probably take some time before I figure it out).

A lot has happened since the last update. My work at WiMP is obviously taking up most of my time as well as I have started to play bass in a band called Shevils. Sandnesposten picked that up  and did a write up of me playing in a band while working for a music streaming service. The interview is pretty good. Check it out here (all in Norwegian):

Jobbar med 16 millionar songar

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7 reasons why [I think] it is a bad idea to sync Twitter with Facebook (and the other way around)

In my opinion it is a bad idea for bands and artists (and everyone else) to sync Twitter and Facebook. Here´s why:

1. Lifespan

The lifespan of a tweet is much shorter than a status update on Facebook. A status update on Facebook will potentially draw attention for days, while the lifespan of a tweet seem to be for about 1-4 hours. People have actually done research on this and that shows that tweeting about 1-4 times per day have the most effect, while 0,5 Facebook status updates per day is most effective. It is however a potentially weak link to get too attached to these numbers, especially when you are an emerging artist. I therefore suggest you experiment to find out what works best for you. There´s however no doubt in my mind that while one may post several posts on Twitter, one should be much more selective on Facebook. Also as pointed out by social media marketing analysts Sysomos “an active Facebook wall doesn´t necessarily imply a popular page”.

I stole this picture from a blogpost suggesting it is a good idea to sync your Facebook updates with your Twitter feed. Ironic.

2. Fans vs. followers

Back in the days you also had friends on Twitter, but this soon changed to followers. On Facebook you have friends, or fans that “like” your music. Friending someone on Facebook carries a deeper social connection than a following on Twitter. Rhetorically speaking one may therefore argue that your followers on twitter are interested in the message you communicate in each tweet, while your fans on Facebook will be more interested in the overall relationship with you as an artist.

3. Speed

Let me teach you some Gurak: How cyberliterate you are, is depending on how well you master the following action terms: speed, reach, anonymity and interactivity. “Speed” is how fast the message spreads on the Internet, while “reach” is the catchment, or the impact of the message (how many it reaches). Anonymity might be less applicable today compared to some years ago (today everybody actually knows you´re a dog), but online behavior will to some extent still be dependent on the degree of anonymity behind your profile (nickname vs. personal profile or even online vs. offline). On this matter interactivity will be the ability your fans have to talk back or interact with you. As far as speed and social media goes, it is important to be aware of the fact that tweets spread way faster compared to Facebook updates. A good example is how much faster news is being spread through Twitter during natural disasters compared to other social media platforms, or even news channels such as Reuters, CNN etc. Twitter might therefore be a good tool for more “time-sensitive” material, while Facebook can be good for updates less depending on its timing.

4. Fans or foes

It is easier to keep a distance to fans on Twitter. This means that the relation you build on Twitter will be less demanding compared to Facebook, which will most likely require far more personal presence and exclusivity (not necessarily as in updates (see pt. 1), but as in the quality of each update (see pt. 2)). When it comes to social media it is very important to understand the negative effect one may generate if one looses the ability to follow up on expected activity. This has to be considered before creating any social media profile. The last thing you want to do is disappoint fans (also check out this write-up I did on social media as CRM).

5. Timing

Market research shows that there are differences on when updates on Twitter and Facebook has the most effect. Some say tweets has the most effect in the afternoon, while weekends (around noon) is best for Facebook sharing. It would however make no academic or analytical sense to believe this also would be the case for you. I therefore suggest you experiment to find your own best practice. My point here is nonetheless that the best time for a tweet is not necessarily the best time for a Facebook update (also hence pt. 1).

6. The 140 characters hazzle

Any update on twitter is limited to 140 characters while there´s really no limits on posting a Facebook update (Twitter remediates the SMS that also has a limit of 140 characters in the US – not in Europe where it is most common to have a limit of 160 characters per message). On Twitter you have to keep it short and sweet (which is an art form in itself), while on Facebook you can be more thorough in your writing. A shortened text with a fb.me link on Twitter is really not cool (this is my opinion, but I don´t think I´m all alone here).

7. Twitter rhetoric’s on Facebook

The more you understand Twitter as a communication tool, the more effective it will also become as a marketing tool. In contrast to Facebook, Twitter has for instance its own rhetoric’s and the limitation of 140 characters draws for a more frequent use of abbreviations. #Hashtags works best on Twitter – not Facebook and the @ works different (technically) on each platform. Therefore get into how things work on each platform and exploit it!

Also check out this article I did on online ethos on Twitter (in Norwegian).

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Life is busy. Life is good.

A little update:

Ever since I finished my master thesis I have been extremely busy at Universal Music Denmark. That´s why things have been rather quiet here on this website. I truly love my work and line of expertise, and I am looking very much forward to what the future will bring (there´s more news coming very soon). At Universal I have been busy preparing the Universal Music repertoire for the DK launch of Spotify as well as maintaining the relationship with other key accounts such as WiMP and TDC Play. Universal Music Denmark has also launched Digster – a service offering editorial playlists for Danish users of Spotify, WiMP and TDC Play.

I actually had Digster as a case study when writing my master thesis on “playlist marketing in the new music economy”. Last month I had the pleasure of talking about Digster as well as my master thesis to music management students at The Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen. Here´s the presentation i made for this talk. The master thesis is actually confidential, so this is the furthers you will get in regards to getting your hands on my master thesis (the presentation gives an introduction to Digster as a service as well as  considerations in regards to theory and the methodology when working on the master thesis):

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Musikselskaber 2010

Picture from ifpi.dk

I have a quote in regards to music streaming services in a new report released by IFPI Denmark June 1, 2011. The report is in Danish and can be downloaded here.

Click here to visit the IFPI website and read what they are saying about their own report.

The report is pointing out the fact that Denmark  is (still) lagging behind when it comes to commonly used as well as widely available music streaming services.

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Record labels as value adding content providers

When in New York last week I had an interesting lunch conversation with an acquaintance that works with online marketing within a totally different business than the music industry. A topic that came up was the existence of record labels (as we know them). One of many questions was why they still exist and if they even have a basis for existence in the new music economy? One argument for why record labels should cease to exist was in relation to how the Internet (now) provides an efficient means of music distribution where a major label investment is not necessary to facilitate the distribution (David, M. 2010: 136).

Photo: CC: Shutrbug72 / Flickr

 

I definitely agree on the fact that the Internet provides an efficient means of music distribution. I also agree on the fact that a lot of bands and artists don’t need to sign with a record label to build a career. I do however still think that record labels has an important role to play in the new music economy. This new role does however not (only) involve hiring a concert booker and implement a 360 deal to their business plan as well as talking about themselves as “music companies” rather than “record labels”. In my opinion the most important role of traditional record labels today is the role of “value adding content providers”. Here’s why:

 

Wikström (2009) argues that the characteristics of the new music economy (high connectivity and little control, music provided as a service and increased amateur creativity) are driven by the digital media technologies (p. 85). These main characteristics are also highlighted in the “Opbrud” report created by the Danish consulting agency Kontrabande (2011). In this report Kontrabande (2011) points out that the development of the digital market for the media industries (film, tv, books, music, games, journalism) is characterized by little control due to fragmentation (unbundling) and individualization of traditional media content, as well as increased amateur creativity and social relevance (sharing within communities). The report also highlights the demand for trustworthy filtering of content. This due to all amateur creativity and information overload for many users (p. 4). Wikström (2009) refers to Negus (1992) when he elaborates on the fact that “the music industry is about ‘developing musical content and personalities’ and to be able to license the use of that content and those personalities to consumers (…)” (p. 17). An important point on user-generated content made by Clay Shirky (2008) is that “much of what gets posted on any given day is in the public but not for the public” (p. 90). The same goes for musical content. As already pointed out the Internet provides an efficient means of music distribution and a major label investment is not necessary to facilitate such distribution (David, M. 2010: 136).  However, more music are produced and available online than what actually reach the consumer. Wikström (2009) refers to Hirsch (1970) and theory on “preselection systems” when describing characteristics of the copyright industries’ marketing challenges. The point is that music listeners only experience a fraction of new music released. What people end up listening to (as in what ends up becoming popular) is what passes trough the gatekeepers filtering system (p. 22). The music consumers’ now need to easily be able to navigate all the music in the Cloud (Wikström, P. 2009: 175).

 

It’s no secret that the music industry has been and still is hit driven. Industry success on a major label level is most often measured by looking at the music charts (who’s number one). Traditionally what has reached the top of the charts and the audience is what music labels have invested a lot of money in (TV-advertising etc). However the increase in music production and songs available online has made it necessary for the music labels to pay for exposure in more outlets in order to keep the audience on a constant level. And as we know, the decrease in CD sales has lead to an additional reduction in income. This way it is without doubt that the traditional way of music marketing and receiving attention for certain artists and musical projects will have a negative impact on profitability. It is therefore crucial for the music companies to lower investments, spend the marketing money more wisely and rely on music fans “to create a good buzz”. (Wikström, P. 2009: 91-92)

 

But as the music companies now has to rely on fans to create a good buzz and with an increasing demand for trustworthy filtering of content, there’s no doubt in my mind that record labels should play their role as “content providers” more serious. As the music industry is about ‘developing musical content and personalities’ as well as making sure that the musical content and those personalities reach consumers, it is highly important that all the music produced are of high quality and that it stands out of the mass creation of “amateur” content. A traditional music label should already have the staff to make sure this happens. I am certain this sounds a bit obvious, but every teenager during the 1990s probably remembers some of the disappointment they sometimes experienced after purchasing an album based on a radio hit. The hit single was good, but the rest of the album wasn’t. In the new music economy consumers no longer have to deal with this type of problems. Today music fans are able to buy access to “all the music in the world” through streaming services such as Spotify, WiMP and Rdio etc. This means that music consumption and eventually revenue streams will be based on what people actually listen to and not on the amount of albums and singles bought in record stores. This speaks out for the importance for record labels to make sure that all the content they represent are of high quality (the filter role of a gatekeeper). Hits are of course still important, but all the music made public by the music company is highly significant. In the new music economy, music companies simply achieve market share based on how much of their entire catalogue music consumers listen to. People still tend to listen to the most popular artists, and that will never change, but it has never been more important to ensure high quality of the entire catalogue. As more music is being produced than ever before (I have been talking about “cultural inflation” for about five years now) and easily distributed online, the music companies mainly needs to make sure that what they release is “better than the rest of what is out there”. The record labels therefore needs to make sure all of their music available in the Cloud is not just in the public, but also for the public. Simply put: Anyone can distribute music online. Not everyone can be on a label. In a world of cultural inflation, this is part of how the filtering of musical content might work.

 

In an interview with the Los Angeles based music blog Rollo & Grady, Seth Godin talks about the music industry in relation to his book “Tribes” (2008): “(…) music labels used to be in the business of grabbing shelf space, on the radio and in the record store. Now, the music industry needs to realign and be in the business of finding and connecting and leading groups of people who want to follow a musician and connect with the other people who want to do the same” (Rollo & Grady, 2009). The way I see it music companies should be about building strong brands and benefit from the artist career as a whole. The best way to build strong brands is definitely by making sure all the music released is of high quality (nobody wants to follow a crappy musician as well as nobody wants to be a crappy musician). This speaks out for the importance of highly skilled A&R people at record labels that not just search for the next number one hit. Today the artist and repertoire employee also needs the ability to lead and guide artists throughout their whole career. Marketing personnel at record labels has for a long time been the strongest argument why someone should sign with record labels. They still are. The marketing power of a record label might be crucial in order to break upcoming acts. However, as the return on investment is harder to reach the more money you spend on exposure in more outlets, the more important it is to make long strategic planning instead of plugging the next big hit or sensational story while paying large sums for exposure in tons of outlets music consumer doesn’t really care about (when was the last time you really noticed and acted upon an online advertisement?). It’s the entire content as a collection that is the most important asset at records labels. The focus therefore needs to be more on all content rather than just hits. At the same time it is crucial to spend marketing money more wisely as well as making sure the fans gets something besides a product wrapped together as a basic album. Today everyone can get their music on iTunes, but not everyone can create something special for their fans – something out of the ordinary. If you want people to recommend your music to others, make sure it is recommendable. The basic rule of content providers is simply that the service is available at little or no cost, to promote their primary business. Content providers are also referred to as “value added services” which on a conceptual level should add value to the standard service offering. In this case the standard service offering is the artist career as a whole, while the music (as in recorded content) of the artist is used to promote the entire business (although it is of course still possible to make money by selling recorded content).

 

A survey recently conducted by ReverbNation shows that 3 out of 4 unsigned artists still want a label deal (Digital Music News 2011). This is also the case with most artists I know, and for the most part this is because 1) artists wants to get acknowledged for their music and 2) they really want to find a home for their music. If an artist really looks up to another artist, he/she/they would in some cases kill to be on the same label or “discovered” by the same A&R as their idols. It is therefore important not to let artists down. After all, they provide the content providers with the actual content and that way function as the most important stakeholder for music companies – Next to the music fans of course. Without fans, music is dead and without good music there will be no fans. That’s why it is crucial to give fans something extra.

 

As any other stakeholder, such as a music journalist, or digital distributor, I would however love to know that whenever music labels release music, it is of high quality, and I would love it if I just knew it instead of having them convince me. I am however not saying that everyone should be on a label to be great (recent history has definitely proved that that’s not how it works). What I am saying is simply that if record labels are supposed to have a reason for existence, it is first and foremost to become a filter of mass production (instead of becoming the mass production). In other words record labels needs to be providers of great musical content (and then some) where they add value to the standard service offering. One thing is the marketing expertise; another thing is the ability to continuously release great musical content on a market where the consumer (and not the marketer) has most of the power and where amateur content strive for the same attention as “music with a marketing budget”.

 

 

Bibliography

 

  • David, M. (2010) Peer to Peer and the Music Industry – The Criminalization of Sharing (First edition). London: Sage
  • Digital Music News (2011). Survey: 3 Out of 4 Unsigned Artists Still Want a Label Deal. Digital Music News (28.03.2010) Online: http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/stories/032511unsigned [Accessed 03.04.2011]
  • Godin, S. (2008). Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, London: Piatkus
  • Kontrabande (2011). Opbrud – Strømninger og bevægelser i markederne for film, tv, bøger, musik, spil og journalistic 2011. Kontrabande (March 2011).
  • Rollo & Grady (2009). Rollo & Grady Interview // Seth Godin (February 5, 2009). Located: http://www.rollogrady.com/rollo-grady-interview-seth-godin/ [Accessed 20.12.2010]
  • Shirky, C. (2008). Here Comes Everybody – How Change Happens When People Come Together, London: Penguin Books
  • Wikström, P. (2009) The Music Industry: Digital Media And Society Series. Cambridge: Polity Press
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