I’m at Un-Convention in Swansea this weekend. Lots of talk with lots of interesting people about the independent and grassroots DIY music sector. It’s held in a cafe/bar called Monkey in the central city, and in the evening, bands play.
I’m here with a bunch of people I know from these sorts of things – and I’ve been spending a fair bit of time hanging with the very clever Ben Walker (@ihatemornings), who you know as the guy who wrote the Twitter song.
One band played last night that blew me away. And I don’t just mean I liked them, or really loved their gig. They BLEW. ME. AWAY. I can’t remember being this excited by a band in years. Possibly decades.
Ben was excited too. We came back downstairs, had a beer, and raved about how amazing they are. We were instant fans. So we went straight online and looked them up.
We Googled: “Islet band Cardiff” and various other combinations of the band name and their city of origin. Nothing. They’d played one support gig for Shonen Knife (how cool is that?!) – but no website, no MySpace, no nothing.
And we were stuck. They had no CDs for sale. Nothing we could do. We just didn’t know how to be Islet fans.
This is a guest post by my friend Dave Haynes, UK Manager of Soundcloud. They’re on the lookout for great people to work with them, and it’s inspired him to write this really useful and quite inspiring post. If this whole lecturing, research and consulting thing doesn’t pan out for me, I might just apply.
We’re currently looking for interns at SoundCloud (for both our Berlin and London offices). Being an exciting new startup at the sweet spot between the music and web industry we’ve had plenty of interest. As an employer, sifting through a lot of applications and CV’s can be quite an arduous process. What really struck me was the wild variance in the standard of applications. Some stick out instantly whilst others don’t even make it past a 30 second skim read.
So I wanted to share some thoughts on what companies like SoundCloud are ‘really’ looking for nowadays and hopefully provide some useful tips on how you can improve your chances if you’re one of the thousands of people looking to make their first steps into the digital music industry.
The Auckland War Memorial Museum is one of my favourite places in the world. It’s an amazing building full of everything you’d like a museum to be. Interesting and engaging, but at the same time hushed, marbled and reverent.
And while it’s appropriately austere, it’s also forward-looking. They’ve recently had a major refurbishment, introduced some really clever digital and interactive features, but without turning it into some sort of crass, multimedia theme park.
As far as I’m concerned, they’ve pretty much struck the balance about right – and the last time I was back in NZ, I was delighted to be able to go to whole new sections of the museum in their new extension.
But the reason I’m talking about this here on New Music Strategies is that they’ve done something really clever that I’d love to see replicated in other ways elsewhere. Perhaps you agree.
I know what’s on your website. It’s all that great stuff your fans like so much, right? Music, videos, photos, blog posts and so on. It’s a veritable goldmine of information, images and media. Anything they want to know about you, they can find out. Anytime they want to see you, that’s where they can go. Any desire to hear your recordings can be instantly gratified.
But y’know, there’s one thing your fans want from your website – perhaps even more than you and your music, incredible as that may seem. And I bet you’re not giving it to them. In fact, I bet they don’t even realise they want it.
I had an email from a musician today who said he was struggling a little with the idea of giving away mp3s. It’s a really common issue, and so I thought I’d share my response.
1) You’re not giving away music, you’re giving away RECORDINGS of your music;
2) Don’t try to make money from your music, make money BECAUSE of your music;
3) Economics works differently for bits than it does for atoms.
It’s all very well being able to buy music instantly, and take it everywhere with you. But somehow, it feels like we’ve lost something along the way with downloading. Music – at least, recorded music – used to be this thing that you would hold in your hand, treasure, read through the liner notes and yeah – smell.
As a wise man once said: “Don’t front like you’ve never licked a record…”
I even met a prominent music industry professional this week who clearly recalls taking his early record purchases to bed with him, and keeping them under his pillow as he slept. But none of these things are ‘the music’. They’re all the bits around the music. It’s the artefact, the artwork, the accompanying text – and not actually the recording of the tune that was being loved in this way.
And while of course we love the music, when you separate the recording from the artefact, things change.
Its aim is to provide useful resources, advice and strategies for innovation and success in the independent music sector in a rapidly changing technological environment.
NMS examines emerging technologies (and buzzwords) such as AI, blockchain, metaverse and 'Web 3.0', but focuses primarily on sustainability, music as a tool for social change, participation, equality and inclusion, and the ways in which music technologies can build better worlds.