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Vince-Gill1

This one’s for all you country lovers out there: Vince Gill is back.

Three years after his last album released, the country legend is back with Down To My Last Bad Habit, his 20thfull length album in a storied 32 year career. In the days of Taylor Swift and Luke Bryan, Gill keeps his classic country twang. Listening to this album is nothing if not reminiscent of how country music used to be.

The first track on the album, “Reasons for the Tears I Cry,” brings that honky-tonk sound that makes you want to put on your cowboy boots and start line dancing. Vince’s soulful voice is no different here than it was in “When I Call Your Name,” one of his biggest hits in 1989. If you’re looking for consistency in quality, Down To My Last Bad Habit is the album you’ll want to hear.

The title track strays away from the honky-tonk vibe that we’re introduced to and slows things down a bit with the country crooner singing about giving up all of his bad habits but one: his former love interest. Again, the style of this track greatly resembles the late ‘80s and early ‘90s country that classic country lovers will be very familiar with. Familiarity is key with this album, but none of it is repetitive or derivative in the least.

Finishing off the album, we get a true tear-jerker in “Sad One Comin’ On.” The song delivers that true country cryin’ music and the song hits home, especially for Vince Gill and classic country lovers alike — it was written for his long time friend and country legend George Jones, who passed away in 2013.

This track is the perfect way to close out the album, bringing true emotion and finishing with that soulful voice that all true country music lovers will remember and appreciate.

You can listen to the album in its entirety here, or download it on iTunes.

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red_flags_recording_contract_record_deal_negotiate_leverageImage via The Virginmarys

 

By: Ari Goldstein

Due to the ever-changing nature of the music industry, record labels have been making quite a few changes to figure out how to stay in business. As we all know by now, record sales have been diminishing, so labels have been “forced” to find additional ways to make (and take) more from artists in order to have a shot at making a profit.

The latest trend in recording contracts is the 360 deal, in which any income that an artist may earn while under contract – not just record sales – can be collected by the label. Anything but a 360 deal of some type for a new artist today is extremely rare, because the only somewhat reliable revenue components for artists today are touring and merch – and the label needs to get some piece of that just to cover costs and make the gamble safer.

“The handful of instances that I have seen where artists were able to really bargain down the 360 elements of their label deals were where they became overnight internet sensations, or cultivated a strong following,” says entertainment attorney Ryan Lewis. “Even then, I have not seen any brand new artist in the past five years get all 360 elements eliminated from their contracts.” The key is to be flexible, adaptable, and gain enough leverage that the ball is in your court.

How do you gain leverage as a new artist?

In some cases, a 360 deal may be worthwhile – but more than likely, if it’s presented to an artist who has little leverage (a small following, little record sales, no radio play, etc.), the deal will not allow for the artist to make money, unless massive success is achieved.

Without leverage, the most common complaint I’ve heard from newly signed artists is that they’re locked into their deal with no commercial album put out in the two years they’ve been signed, and the label says that they have a tab to repay with interest if they want to get out… if they can get out.

The key to gaining leverage in negotiating a more reasonable record deal is to show the label that you can deliver in one or more reliable revenue streams, whether that’s touring, publishing, or another revenue stream. It doesn’t matter to the label – they just need to be able to bank on covering some minimum artist development burn rate. Upside isn’t enough anymore unless it comes with that guarantee.

You don’t have to attain Macklemore-level success to create some leverage, but you will need to build your career to the point where it makes sense for a label to do business with you. You can create quality songshone your craft, develop your sound, and promote your music on a small budget, so don’t wait for someone to do it for you.

Which red flags should you try to negotiate out of your recording contract?

Artists must arm themselves with skilled music attorneys to negotiate certain removals or certain untouchable categories, as well as negotiate the percentages of income shared.

First of all, any label that asks you to pay up front for their services, which they will then also be taking a commission or net profits for successfully performing, is an immediate red flag that the deal isn’t legitimate. If a company really believes in you and wants to push your music, they’ll do it for nothing up front.

But assuming you’re dealing with a legitimate label, here’s what to keep an eye out for in the contract:

1. Net profits

The goal is to make sure that you can control as much of the recording and creative process as possible, as any time the label mandates use of a specific producer, featured artist, recording facility, etc. (with whom they may have side deals anyway), they will be negotiating and deducting the value of those elements from your future royalties and/or advances. It’s really just a matter of negotiating the age old “net profits” elements and terms, which include recording costs, various distribution costs, manufacturing costs, touring costs, marketing costs, and all other major defined terms that comprise the expense side of the “net profits” valuation.

2. Mechanical royalties

If you have the leverage, try negotiating out “mechanical royalties” from the cost column of the “Recording Costs” definition. You definitely don’t want the label deducting that as a “cost” in determining the ultimate value of the royalty they pay you.

3. Require your written approval for costs

In terms of controlling costs unknowingly charged to your future royalties by the label, try to negotiate out the label’s ability to step up and pay for various costs without your written approval. The relevant language will usually be found in a clause defining “Deficiency Payment” and/or “Additional Payment.” Do not allow the label to have carte blanche in determining what they can and cannot charge for things that you “need,” unless they get written approval from you first.

4. Beware the multi-album deal

Don’t get locked into a multi-album deal, although they will turn it into a seemingly worthwhile option where you can renegotiate (certain terms, within certain limits) after album one. While the flexibility to renegotiate better terms for subsequent albums is ideal, you’ll want to come into the negotiation knowing specifically what you need from the label to be able to blow up, and get firm commitments from them that they will give you that within a prescribed time period.

 

At some point in your music career, you may exhaust your resources and arrive at a point where you’re either going to sink or swim. You may decide that you need to make a jump to reach a wider audience, and you’ll probably have to aim for a smaller slice of a bigger pie to achieve that. A label isn’t always the enemy, and there are countless examples of bands that have thrived on labels. That being said, the advice I always give to artists is to not sit back and wait for a label. Don’t count on them to save you – save yourself and make them come to you. That’s where things really shape up nicely for an artist. So stop being lazy, stop being scared, stop saying, “Tomorrow we’ll write our best songs,” and do it today. Learn, listen, be open, and believe in yourself. The rest will fall into place if you want it badly enough. A 360 deal can’t stop a 360 believing artist.

 

Ari Goldstein’s career in the music industry began when he funded the release of O.A.R’s debut album, The Wanderer (1997). After successfully pursuing a career in digital music marketing and working as an MC in Ordinary Peoples for 12 years, he began managing New York band DREAMERS (members of Motive) in 2011 and has been actively working in the industry ever since. Ari is the co-founder of AK Artist Group, a creative management company based out of New York City. He works with an eclectic roster of artists, including buzzing bands Mainland, DREAMERS, The Teen Age, Silverbird, and Challenger.

Contributions to this article were made by Ryan Lewis, who has been an entertainment attorney for four years with a focus on music and film.

A recent study among 15,000 marketers in the US and Europe showed that marketers achieve positive results by applying online engagement as part of their marketing strategy. One of the main drivers for adopting online engagement is, next to increasing customer satisfaction and reducing churn rates, improving conversion ratios.
PSV
One great example of a customer improving its conversion ratios thanks to implementing online engagement, is the Dutch soccer club PSV. Founded a century ago by electronics giant Philips, PSV expanded into a successful and internationally renowned soccer club. PSV discovered that its fans, depending on their level of involvement with the club, have very different needs for online communication and (e-commerce) offerings. A highly involved fan might enjoy reading detailed news updates and taking part in specialized fan-travel arrangements to visit matches played abroad. On the other hand, fans who are only loosely involved with the club might be more interested in general news updates and only purchase the occasional goodie in the online fan store.

Fan Score
Realizing that every fan is different, PSV decided to serve its fans engaging content on an individual basis. Using GX Software’s BlueConic, PSV created a sophisticated Fan Scorethat reflected a visitor’s level of ‘fan-ness’. Based on the fan’s content consumption, click behavior and purchase history, PSV could now very accurately determine the involvement of an individual visitor with the club.In a first use case, PSV employed this Fan Score to offer Euro League tickets to fans with moderate-to-high Fan Scores in a dedicated cross-channel campaign. The underlying idea was twofold. Firstly, it would retain loyal fans and offer them a premium seat at the Euro League. Secondly, it would drive moderately involved fans to take the next stride and let them experience a major match, witnessing their favorite team at its very best. This would contribute to turning moderate fans into loyal fans.

Conversion ratio of 6%
PSV created channel-specific campaign content like an editorial, a homepage takeover and a banner to interact with potentially interested visitors, aimed at offering them Euro League tickets. In real time, BlueConic displayed the right message to the right visitor at the right channel, based on this person’s individual Fan Score. This clearly hit the nail on the head: by differentiating their audience using the Fan Score, conversion ratios soared to an impressive 6%, well above the industry average.

Abandoned baskets
Besides a major uplift in conversions, BlueConic also solved the problem of unfinished ticket bookings – the so-called abandoned basket. BlueConic was configured in such a way that in case a visitor did not fully complete the ticket booking process, it could retarget this visitor back into the right step of the booking process at his next visit.

The first BlueConic-driven engagement campaign was put live on www.psv.nl in an astonishing timeframe of just a few days. This included the set-up of fan scoring, the dynamic fan segmentation and the creation of specific engagement content.

If you want to read more about this BlueConic customer story, please download the PSV case study.

The Author

Ruud Verstraeten ― Product Marketer at GX Software. Ruud started in online marketing consultancy and has worked in both Europe and the United States, helping company achieve their business goals via customer-centric online marketing.

Dave Cool is Director of Artist Relations for musician website & marketing platformBandzoogle. Twitter: @Bandzoogle |@dave_cool

Google Adwords might not be the first method you think of using to promote your band. But, if you’re looking to book weddings or other private gigs, Google Adwords can be an effective method of driving visitors to your website and reaching potential clients.

Getting Started

First thing’s first: anyone can use Google Adwords. You don’t need to be a huge corporation and you don’t need to hire expensive consultants to start running ads.

Signing up for a Google Adwords account is free. If you already have a Google account, it’s simply a matter of entering your password to create an Adwords account.

Once you log-in to your account, you’ll notice that there are lots of resources to help you get started. You can even call Google free of charge to get your first campaign up and running.

How much does it cost?

Google Adwords uses a Cost-Per-Click (CPC) system. So even if your ad is displayed, you are only charged if someone clicks through to your website.

The cost-per-click depends on how much competition there is for the keywords you’ve chosen. It’s an auction process, so you set the maximum you’re willing to pay for a clickthrough. Depending on how many other people are bidding on the same keywords, and what they’re bidding, will affect how much it ends up costing you.

You set a daily budget, which can be adjusted at anytime. Here’s a quick example from the Google Adwords website:

  • Your daily budget: $10
  • Your maximum cost-per-click bid: $0.50
  • Your average actual cost-per-click: $0.40
  • Approximate number of clicks per day: 25

Choosing keywords

A keyword is a word or a string of words that someone types into a search engine to find content. The more specific you are with your keywords, the better. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to see the search volume and get traffic estimates on certain keywords to help you choose which ones to use.

Bandzoogle member Jon Hart created a site specifically for weddings, then used Google Adwords to find gigs. He started off with roughly 20 keywords, including ‘Wedding Guitarist’ and ‘Wedding Singer’, then eliminated any that weren’t getting results. He recommends trying out the keyword generator, then experimenting to see what works.

Targeting your campaign

You can use geo-targeting to really get local with your ads. So you could target your ads to people searching within a 20-mile radius of your hometown, or a larger geographic region that you’re willing to travel to.

Targeting locally will mean less competition, so it will cost less, and will likely be more effective than trying to advertise your services to the entire country you live in. It might sound nice to get hired to play a wedding in California when you live on the east coast, but it’s likely not feasible financially.

You can even go further and target specific times and days, or types of devices. For the purposes of a band, that’s probably not necessary, but it just shows you how powerful the targeting can be.

Creating your ad

Here are the types of ads you can create Google Adwords for:

  • Google Search results
  • Mobile ads
  • Advertise on other websites
  • Image & video ads
  • YouTube

For a band looking to get booked at weddings in their local market, text ads in Google Search Results would be a good place to start. It’s simple, effective, and relatively inexpensive.

For text ads, there are strict character limits and rules. You can create several ads, change your ad copy anytime, and drop ads that aren’t working. When starting out, speak to a representative at Google Adwords who can analyze your ads and give you advice on how to improve them.

Creating specific and relevant ads will help you get higher positioning. This is an estimate of how relevant your ads, keywords, and landing page are to a person seeing your ad for a particular search.

Speaking of your landing page, you can either create a specific landing page for that campaign, or simply use your Homepage. Either way, make sure tohave a strong call-to-action and a great testimonial on your landing page.

Here’s an example of one of Jon Hart’s ads:

He set the landing page as the homepage of his website, which has a great testimonial from a past client, a featured video, as well as a strong call-to-action to book him:

Jon has booked 49 gigs so far using Google Adwords combined with his great website! Create a great website for your cover band by reading our post: How to Build a Website for Your Cover Band

Measuring results

Google Adwords provides you with detailed reports to measure the effectiveness of your ads. You can see how often your ads are being displayed, and which keywords triggered those impressions. They also allow you to compare Impressions vs. Clicks, so if you see that certain ads or keywords are performing better than others, adjust your ad spend accordingly.

If you’re not getting the results you want, remember, you can chat with a Google Adwords representative who can offer advice on how to improve your campaign. But as with any ad campaign, always stay within your budget and make sure you’re getting a return on your investment.


Dave Cool is Director of Artist Relations for musician website & marketing platform Bandzoogle. Twitter: @Bandzoogle | @dave_cool

Google Adwords for Musicians

BY   

One of the first online social networks I ever joined was LinkedIn. Even in those days when the network for professionals was a collection of resumés, I treated LinkedIn as a collection of professional contacts I knew and could recommend. You could call me up and I could tell you something about the person in my network and would very likely be happy to make an introduction.

Something changed along the way

At the time, I was a sales and marketing professional and nobody was talking about Social Media as a tool that would revolutionize all aspects of our lives. When I joined Twitter, Facebook and a whole bunch of other social networks, my focus shifted from using LinkedIn as a rolodex to connecting with people directly in the other platforms. LinkedIn got less and less important for me. At the same, time LinkedIn increasingly became a platform for self promotion. I mainly missed the real-time conversation.

LinkedIn spent a few years in a dormant state that almost made it obsolete. The lack of innovation made it fall behind the emerging Social Media Platforms like Twitter and Facebook. However in the last two years LinkedIn has woken up and is now innovating on a constant basis.

I have to admit that I am more drawn to the faster pace of the other social networks. A large number of LinkedIn users use the platform purely for broadcasting and self-promotion.  I absolutely hate the generic contact requests “Join my professional network on LinkedIn”. I get a large number of these every day – often from accounts without even a profile picture and mostly from people I’ve never even heard about. This is probably either because they are using LinkedIn’s generic invite function (The mobile app doesn’t even let you customize that) or some Social Media guru told them that the one who has the biggest number of connections wins.

I don’t know about you but I go in waves about accepting these invitations and not – but I never feel good about adding people to my network that I don’t know anything about.

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photo credit: Rennett Stowe via photopin cc

Plus for the last two years I thought I wasn’t using LinkedIn right because I’m not a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) until I finally took a Seminar from my favourite LinkedIn Expert Colin Parker who is an experienced sales and marketing trainer. The seminar was called “How to use LinkedIn to Grow your Business” and Colin opened my eyes to a whole new way of looking at LinkedIn.

This is how I want to use LinkedIn going forward:

From now on I will only accept connections that I know from my other social graphs – people that I have met either in person or on other social media channels. I will not accept connection requests from anybody without a profile picture especially if I don’t recognize their name.

Why? Because I now realize the real power of LinkedIn is in the network. I want to get to a point where I can make valuable connections, a brave new LinkedIn world where

  1. you can call me up and ask me to make a recommendation to someone in my LinkedIn network and I will be able to say: “Sure, I know this person”
  2. I have looked at all my connections and contacted the ones I accepted without knowing them. (before deciding whether to delete them or not)
  3. I know who of my connections is likely able to really connect me to the person that could really use my services

It’s going to take some work

It takes more work to build a network this way.

I hope that LinkedIn will continue showing only a maximum of 500+ contacts in each profile. This prevents the focus on misunderstood social proof by collecting numbers instead of connections that plagues most of the other networks.

Once I am done with all that hard work of weeding and nurturing my LinkedIn garden I will again have a usable tool featuring real contacts. I can then use the most professional of all Social Media Platforms to really do what I need it to do: Facilitate professional networking to help and connect others and become a useful tool to connect to new valuable contacts and grow my business.

It fascinates me that we can use Social Networks in so many different ways. How do you use LinkedIn? Are you a LION?

If you are interested to see how I use other platforms – check out my about page.

*This is a guest article by Frithjof Petscheleit*

BY 

This week, Google started encrypting all organic searches on the site. This means that business owners who track keyword data provided by Google on search traffic are now out of luck as keywords won’t be supplied for these secure searches.

In 2011, Google started masking keyword data and labeling it as “(not provided)” for anyone that was logged into their Google account. Also known as secure search, Google mentioned that this was done in an effort to protect personalized results that it delivers. Google noted that this change would initially impact single-digit percentages for all Google searches. Today, that number stands close to 75 percent of websites tracked by Not Provided Count (see graphic below).

 

Google's New Secure Search Means More Work for Online Business Owners

For business owners who develop web content based in part on the keywords Google says people search for when they land on their website, here are some important notes to keep in mind:

You can still get keyword data if you buy ads.
Interestingly, Google will pass you keyword data if you’re running ads on Google. This might raise the question of whether Google is trying to generate more revenue by hiding organic keyword data.

You can still get keyword data from Google Webmaster Tools.
You’re able to see the top 2,000 queries per day going back to 90 days through Google Webmaster Tools. Google has indicated that this will increase in the future to one year. You’ll have to continue to archive these on a consistent basis or else you’ll lose all the data. With AdWords, however, you can save this data for as long you like.

It’s time to start adopting other methods to develop content ideas.
It used to be that you could look at keyword data in Analytics to generate content ideas but since that is now going to be stripped away, it’s time to look at other methods for keyword and content research. Ubersuggest is a strong tool for providing content recommendations. Another one is analyzing your internal search data.

Start focusing more on conversion rate optimization. 
Keyword data disappearing isn’t such a bad thing in this case, as the loss of it will cause online business owners to focus more on the right things, individual landing pages, instead of individual entry keywords for each landing page. This is a more optimal way to be optimizing your conversion rate because you are focusing on increasing the conversion rate of the page instead of looking at lesser details.

Related: How Google ‘Author Markup’ Can Help Protect Your Content and Build Your Brand

The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

To get radio, podcast, and TV interviews, here are steps to take to build your publicity effort for your company, book, or public relations clients:

 

  1. Find Your Niche: You need to identify your niche, find what media that customers in that niche consume, and get to know who the radio, TV, and podcast reporters are who cover that niche.
  2. Find the Radio / TV / Podcasts for your niche:Then start reading/watching/listening to the stations and shows that reach your target market to note reporter’s names and specialties as well as the kinds of stories and formats they prefer.
  3. Make sure that your “News” is newsworthy. News is about current events – that’s why they call it “news”. Your local radio station isn’t interested in hearing about topics that their audiences will ignore. They are looking for “new” topics to cover, or more often, interesting angles on current events. For you this means that you need to keep your pitches fresh and timely. I know that it’s unlikely that your book, products or clients change daily but the news must. So instead of trying repeatedly to get radio, TV, or podcast coverage of your product itself, try instead tying its benefits or features to a current event that is already hot in the news.
  4. Think in terms of stories not products. It’s no one’s job to promote your product but you. It is not the obligation of any media outlet to cover you or interview you as a guest expert. Their job is to create interesting stories that offer information to their audiences. 
  5. Tie your pitch to the interests of the reporter or publication you are pitching. Nothing frustrates radio, TV, and podcast journalists and more than having to deal with time wasting pitches that are not appropriate for their outlets 
  6. Be concise. Because they are deluged with pitches and always working under tight deadlines, broadcasting people cannot afford the time to wade through overly long pitches. You need to make a strong case in a very short space. Liberal use of bullet points, bolds, and highlights is recommended to help the journalist quickly understand what you are offering them. 
  7. Polite follow-up: Given all the submissions that they receive even an interested podcast producer or radio booker may not get around to contacting you due to competing distractions. It’s your job to spoon-feed the story to them and convince them that it’s worth covering on their radio, TV, or podcast program. Polite, pleasant, and persistent reminders, whether by e-mail, phone, or letter are a part of doing business in the world of public relations. Additionally, if a reporter says no you must believe them and back off. Wait until you have a new angle on the story or a different story entirely to contact them again. 
  8. Pitch formulas can help. Watch your evening television news to quickly learn the easiest way to attract attention of reporters. If you note the way that the news anchors tease the stories from upcoming segments you’ll quickly get the idea of how to both summarize and make your story idea as attractive as possible. Common examples include pitch formulas like: “the secrets of X that Y don’t want you to know”, “how to do X faster/cheaper than you ever thought possible”, “three simple steps to X”, “the dangerous fact about X you need to know to protect your kids”, “how to save money by doing X”, “the surprising truth about X”, and so forth…