Copy of Facebook’s New Reach Objective: A Game Changer for Touring Musicians

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog post written by Don Bartlett, owner of No Door Agency, an Austin, TX-based boutique management and marketing agency. Don also hosts a seminar titled “Facebook Marketing For Musicians. Be sure to read his TuneCore Blog article on maximizing your Facebook ads on an indie budget.]

From it’s earliest days Facebook has used its powerful data algorithms to deliver incredibly well-targeted ads. It was a dream for most advertisers. They wouldn’t just put your ad in front of your target audience, they’d put it in front of the specific members of that audience who were most likely to engage with the ad. The success of this approach changed the entire landscape of advertising, and advertisers reaped the benefits. For musicians trying to promote tour dates, though, this presented a problem.

Bands are in a relatively unique position, from an advertising perspective. In each tour city we have small but very valuable target group of people we want to reach. It’s critical that we reach ALL of that group, not just the ones who might be prone to engaging with Facebook posts. If we’ve got 500 fans in New York City, we want all 500 to see the ad for our show.

Until now, the best objectives were “Page Post Engagement” or “Website Clicks” which deliver to those people who historically took those actions when viewing ads. In many cases that left a decent chunk of your fans out.

In late 2016 Facebook rolled out a new objective that solves this problem. When you choose the “Reach” objective you are now functionally telling Facebook that you want to reach as many people in your target audience as possible. After a few months of testing we’ve found that ads with the Reach objective perform significantly better for these small but valuable targets.

Note that that when you’re advertising to larger, non-fan target audiences….fans of similar bands, for example…you’re still better off using the “Page Post Engagement” or “Website Clicks” objective.

Another significant advantage to the Reach objective is that for the first time Facebook is allowing you to put a limit on how often people see your ads. Even an ad for your favorite band’s show can get annoying if it’s popping up in your newsfeed 4 times a day. This new feature lets you define an amount of time that a user will not see your ad again after viewing it.

It’s a very helpful tool that provides an extra degree of control to what your fans are seeing from your page. A good rule of thumb is to build in a frequency cap of at least two days for most campaigns.

Taken together these two new features provide a huge improvement to the tour marketing arsenal. Facebook ads have always been a one of the most effective ways to reach fans in a given city, but the effectiveness was often limited by their optimization algorithms. With the “Reach” objective we now have a concrete way to reach all of them.

5 Ways to Optimize Your Time at SXSW

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Rich Nardo.Rich is a freelance writer and editor, and is the co-founder of 24West, a full-service creative agency focusing on music and tech.]

 

2017 seems to be a bit of an odd year for SXSW. Between the visa controversy and the fact a good number of traditionally cornerstone participants are either scaling down their involvement or skipping the conference all together, a lot of artists who may have stretched their budget to attend may be starting to worry about whether it was the best use of their time and resources.

Well, fear not! At the end of the day any networking/showcase scenario will be exactly what you as an individual makes of it. Despite the scaled-down scope of this year’s festivities, there will still be more than enough industry professionals in attendance. From press tastemakers and music supervisors to label A&R reps and booking agents, if you play your cards right in Austin there is a very strong chance that you will return home afterwards in a better career situation than you are in today.

Here are five ways to optimize your time in Austin in between all the delicious tacos and BBQ you’ll be getting into:

1. One-On-One Meetings Will Be Your Most Important

A lot of emphasis is placed on getting the ‘right’ showcases and playing in front of the ‘right’ people. Personally, I feel that the real difference in generating lead opportunities comes when you’re not playing. Make sure your schedule is packed with one-on-one meetings when you’re not doing official showcases or attending networking events. Reach out to people you would want to work with in advance of getting to Austin to lock in a time to grab a drink or coffee. If your pre-determined list of people to meet with isn’t that extensive, improve it while you’re there. If you meet someone at an event don’t just bank on connecting after you get home. Take the time to meet with them later in the week in a more personal scenario. If you reside in different cities, this may be your last chance to talk face-to-face for a while.

2. Go to Networking Events

Unless you’ve got a string of top-billed showcases lined up and the industry is already buzzing about your band, a lot of your ‘wins’ are going to come in expanding your network offstage. If you’re a young artist that isn’t quite ‘on the inside’ of the industry yet, any networking event will give yourself the chance to make new contacts. When you’re not yet able to rely on the strong rolodex of a powerful manager, lawyer or label, it’s on you to really build your connections to create opportunities. That way next year you will have those high profile performance slots!

3. Turn Other Shows into Networking Events

We all love live music. That’s a big part of the reason why we work so hard to have a career in this business. But as a musician, it is best to keep in mind that you are working at these shows. Go see as many bands as you can and make it a point to connect with the artists you like after their sets. This may not be that fruitful if you’re trying to convince Run The Jewels to let you open their next tour, but if you find some good mid-tier bands there might be a chance to string together a few tour dates together to take advantage of each of your regional fanbases. Or if the band is a bit further along in their career than you are, maybe you can open for them when they come through your city.

Either way, it doesn’t hurt to approach them at SXSW and strike up a casual conversation. Just make sure you’re not coming across as if you were only reaching out to pitch them on your band. Let them know how much you like their set, ask them questions about their music and where they’re from. If that goes well, let them know you’d like to keep in touch and take it from there. Also, if you do somehow run into Killer Mike or El-P, the same rules apply!

4. Share Your Experience On Socials (And Optimize It)

There is nothing more important to creating opportunities than face-to-face interactions. Still, you have the digital realm at your disposal and you should do your best to optimize that. Take photos at the different events you attend and post them to your social networks. Make sure you’re using the proper hashtags when doing so to aggregate some attention from other people at the conference. Also, always tag the bands and companies that are involved in the showcase or event you’re snapping photos from and geo-tag your posts as well! After SXSW is over, this may also end up being a good way to stir up conversations with people you may not have gotten to talk to in person over the course of the week.

5. Organize Your Contacts and Follow Up!

This is perhaps the most important aspect of the conference and one that is often overlooked. Take as many business cards and other contact info as you can while you’re down there. Make sure you’re chronicling when and where you meet people (I like to keep a notebook that I update at the end of each day). That way when everyone goes back to their respective homes at the end of the week you can follow up letting them know how great it was to connect and set up a call to continue the conversation on how you can potentially work together. If there is no ‘next steps’ after Austin the trip may not have been worth your time and money afterall!

Also…the tacos. Eat all the tacos!

5 Tips & Taboos to Remember at SXSW

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Jhoni Jackson, a music journalist and Puerto Rico-based venue owner.]

 

Planning is key to a successful SXSW experience, but there’s more to prepping than booking shows and finding a place to stay. Understanding what you could potentially get out of your time at the fest is equally important as accepting what’s very unlikely to happen; whether you’re a first-timer or returning band hoping for better results this year, this guide can help lay the foundation for your plans.

1. Tip: Set realistic networking goals

Getting noticed by important industry folk at SXSW would be a career-boosting dream, of course. But for most bands and artists, even if they’re on full display at an official showcase, enamoring a label rep or booking agent to a point that they sweep in and offer a massive deal that changes their lives forever—that’s simply not reality.

While the ultimate winning scenario isn’t impossible, your time at the festival is much better spent focusing on realistic networking goals. Instead of hoping for the ultimate opportunity, seek out connections with all types of people regardless of presumed influence. The founder of a tiny label you hadn’t heard of before, the blogger who’s there as official press but is covering events on their own accord, that person in the crowd who took a video of your set—any of these people could potentially help you in some way, big or small. Networking as a independent musician isn’t just about moving up the ranks, it’s about finding your people within that community, cultivating those connections and collaborating together to elevate each other’s work.

Taboo: Being obnoxious

Don’t let your eagerness to talk with someone in the industry obliterate common sense. Interrupting a conversation, grabbing at a passing person to get their attention, forcing a chat to keep going despite sensing the other party is trying to move on—all of these things are as unacceptable in industry networking as they are in any social setting. Being excited to meet someone and super-hyped by the possiblity of working together is not an excuse for being annoying or making other people uncomfortable.

2. Tip: SXSW is not just about networking

Don’t forget so wrapped up in making connections that you forget the festival is a stellar opportunity for growing your fanbase. If you’ve landed an official showcase, congratulations—but don’t ignore the unofficial parties. If there’s no stipulation in your contract against playing outside the official fest, then definitely, absolutely look into official shows.

Music passes cost between $800 and $1,000; not everyone wants to or has the option to spend that much for access to legit SXSW events. Naturally, the overflow of unofficial parties is immense. Those crowds are real opportunities to grow your fanbase. If you’re not already playing an unofficial event, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to hop on an existing bill at this point. Still, you can search for shows featuring likeminded bands—go check them out, meet people, watch other bands perform, and talk about your band and pass out CDs or cards with download codes when you can.

Taboo: Forgetting the unofficial shows

Seriously, it’s where the action is. As an independent artist, putting too much importance on official showcases and dismissing unofficial shows altogether is basically sacrilege. If you weren’t contracted for an official showcase, you can still play these unofficial shows and have a productive experience.

3. Tip: Prepare thoroughly

If you’ve got a lot of shows lined up, your time at SXSW will inevitably be chaotic. You already know it will be incredibly crowded, and schedules are incredibly compact, packed to the gills with back-to-back sets. The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to crumble under the festival’s inherently stressful pressure.

Map out your schedule, taking care to allow for time spent traveling from set to set. Whenever possible, include extra time for the possibility of fighting through a mass of immovable party people. Grabbing a bite seems relatively easy in theory, but the crowds can cause serious delays so you’ll want to figure in some time to eat, too.

Carry a snack on you, just in case. Bring along a refillable water bottle, too. Lastly, keep a portable phone charger handy, bring back-ups like strings and cables and, unless you want to feel miserable for the bulk of your trip, consistently use sunscreen during daylight hours.

Taboo: Freaking out when your schedule goes awry

No matter how meticulously you plan, it’s very possible that some outside factor will negatively affect your schedule. Do your best to adapt to whatever changes you encounter. After all, if a situation is out of your control, the best you can do is minimize additional damage: try to be constructive, but above all else, stay calm.

4. Tip: Use SXSW as a chance to try something new

Is there an idea you’ve been holding onto for fear of it not working in your local scene? Sometimes the habits you develop working your city’s circuit—even the positive ones—hold you back from trying new things. You’ve established a certain rapport with your crowd; suddenly switching things up could put off existing fans.

Handing out flyers with your social media info and album download codes in your own city might feel like overdoing it if you’re under the impression that anyone who wanted to check your band out already knows you exist. Austin during SXSW, totally jam-packed with people who’ve never heard of you, is an ideal opportunity to employ that promo strategy.

That’s only one example—you could incorporate new ideas almost anywhere, from your live setup, to how you deliver a particular song or the kind or cost of merch you sell.

Taboo: Not being yourself

Trying out something new is generally a positive thing, but you shouldn’t go so far as to present a version of yourself that isn’t genuine. It’s a fine line between entertaining a possible change and forcing one. Trust your instincts—you know when something feels insincere or contrived.

5. Tip: Enjoy yourself!

As stressful as SXSW can be, you should still be able to have a good time. Following the aforementioned tips will help you avoid major let-downs and stay chill in times of trouble. You’ll make the most out of the fest if you employ all of them—and you can still do that while having a good time.

If you don’t pile up so many expectations about networking, you’ll find it more enjoyable to connect with people. You can make new connections while hanging out and watching bands at an unofficial show—and that should be fun, duh! And that water bottle you’ve been lugging around will prove especially useful in moderating the effects of booze consumption.

Taboo: Having too good of a time, i.e. getting totally sloshed

It should go without saying that if you hit the booze (or whatever else) too hard, you’ll weaken your chances of making SXSW a productive experience. In a too-wasted state, you could screw up a set, miss an opportunity to talk with industry rep or give a music writer a really terrible first impression. Know your limits, and stick to them. The fest is good reason to party, sure—but don’t forget why you’re really there.

The Downsides of Releasing Music Often vs. Rarely

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Hugh McIntyre and is the second installment in a two-part series about how the timeliness and/or frequency of your release schedule can impact your career.]

 

Recently, I looked at the upsides that can come with releasing music either fairly often or rarely. There are plenty of good reasons to consider either one of those options, but what I didn’t discuss in detail in my piece was what could be wrong with these choices. What are the downsides to dropping albums and singles constantly, or only every so often?

Often

Ask any artist that releases a new album every year and you’ll probably hear them all say the same thing: they’re tired. Operating as a musician that shares that much material that often is exhausting in almost every way, and while it might sound terribly romantic to be so committed to your art that you’re willing to wear yourself thin to make it and put it out into the world, it’s incredibly difficult to keep up.

Between writing, recording, finishing everything else that comes with an album, and then properly promoting that new project—which means filming music videos, doing media outreach, and composing entire marketing campaigns—and that’s to say nothing of touring, it isn’t actually too difficult to imagine that refusing to take breaks in between album cycles is the sort of thing that can run anybody down, even the most ambitious and talented of artists.

If you’re constantly creating and releasing music without taking time to refresh and relax (at least for a little while), it may not take long for your art to suffer. Time is one of the necessary components to creating great music, and if you’re always working, you will see the quality of your work decrease…and everybody else will eventually notice as well. Sure, you may be selling more albums than you would if you only dropped a full length every few years, but can you keep up the pace for long? Are you really willing to all but kill yourself to get to a place where you’re worn out and creating music that may be beneath the best you can?

Also, just because you’re not taking time in between albums, that doesn’t mean that creating singles and albums (and everything else connected to these products) can be finished faster. It’s likely that putting together a 10-track record will take you essentially the same amount of time no matter how you’re doing it…so don’t you want your art to be appreciated? Putting new things out into the world constantly doesn’t let fans and the media give each piece the right amount of time and attention. If there’s always something else to hear, everybody will move on, and that can cheapen your art!

Rarely

It’s quite simple: if you don’t release a lot of music, you’ll have fewer things to sell. Even your biggest and most ardent fans are only going to buy every album you release once (or perhaps twice, depending on how you market different formats). Releasing an album every few years may help in some departments, and it may be the absolute best art you can possibly create, but you can still only sell it so many times. Sharing new tunes less frequently means you’ll need to focus on selling more copies to different people, which means more time spent promoting your limited output in the hopes of attracting new fans. Adding to your fan base sounds great (and of course it is), but it’s far easier to sell something, anything, to a fan you already have than to turn a stranger into a paying customer.

On top of having fewer opportunities to sell music, releasing music only occasionally only gives you so many chances to promote yourself, at least via traditional methods. Few blogs will want to interview an up-and-coming artist with nothing new to push, and larger publications that may only be potentially interested in you during the beginning of a cycle may miss you once, and then you’ll need to wait a long time before having a good reason to pitch them again. Even if you spend the money to hire a publicist, they’ll likely tell you that your best chances of getting press come when there is something new and exciting coming.

The same can be said for touring. Much like selling music, only the biggest and most adoring fans will come see you more than once if you have nothing new to play them. Tickets always sell better when you’re in full promotional mode, which comes with a new “era.” Plus, does it sound like fun to you as an artist to continually travel across the country playing nothing but the same few tracks?

One of the least talked-about issues facing artists that take lengthy breaks in between album cycles (or whatever we want to call it in today’s post-album economy) is that of lost momentum. Sometimes when a new or lesser-known artist starts to see their single become well known, be it on the charts or via a streaming platform like Spotify, they have already released an album or an EP that had been in the works. While some tracks become overnight sensations, it still takes a lot of acts months to see their songs go viral. Once that happens, musicians need to do everything they can to capitalize on their newfound, growing popularity. To disappear for a few years shortly after a potential fan base becomes interested is a huge wasted opportunity.

While it may be tiring, the smart thing is to try to get something out in time for those people that just arrived to the party to snap up more material, thus cementing them as fans. If you step away for a time and return years later, it might be too late for many of them, and you’ll have lost some could-have-been fans.

February Industry Wrap-Up

The cold weather is slowly on its way out and SXSW is on the horizon – must be the end of February! That’s why we’re here to wind down the month in music industry happenings. Just because it was a short month doesn’t mean there was no action – read on to catch the latest on Facebook’s upcoming video ventures, collaboration among the YouTube and Google Play Music teams, and Spotify’s ‘sunny’ new parter.

 

Facebook to Introduce Longer-Form ‘Premium’ Music Video Content


As online videos become an even more integral part of marketing and promotion for artists – from major label mainstays to indie up-and-comers – competition to serve hungry fans continues to heat up among all the big name platforms. If you’ve been reading around, you know that Facebook is a key contender in its attempts to offer users exciting ways to consume video content, including it’s rolling out of Facebook Live which paid some big name creators to help promote the service in its early stages.

Recently, Facebook’s VP of Partnerships Dan Rose expressed their desire to begin offering ‘premium videos’, with content shifting into the 5-10 minute length. According to reports, Facebook will offer indie artists and labels the opportunity to test and create episodic content while being paid directly by Facebook in the early stages; Rose says the model will shift to a rev-share after that. With almost two billion users, Facebook remains a major platform for promoting and marketing musical content.

Like anything else surrounding the world of copyright and video content, Facebook is facing concerns from members of the music industry surrounding licensing. When you’re hoping to take a slice of YouTube’s market share, at the very least, a platform should have systems in place that protect copyright holders and ensure that they can be paid properly for the use of their works. Like YouTube’s Content ID system that allows TuneCore to help artists collect their sound recording revenue when their music is used in videos across the platform, sources say that Facebook is in the process of building a parallel copyright ID program. This will be crucial in the potential success of Facebook’s upcoming premium video plans, and it goes to show the importance being placed on protecting copyrighted work – good news for artists of all stripes!

 

Google Merges Play Music & YouTube Music Teams


This past month it was revealed to media outlets that the product teams in charge of directing YouTube Music and Google Play Music will be combined into a single unit. Confirmed by Google, a spokesperson said: “Music is very important to Google and we’re evaluating how to bring together our music offerings to deliver the best possible product for our users, music partners and artists. Nothing will change for users today and we’ll provide plenty of notice before any changes are made.”

What does this mean for artists? Well, we already know that independent music makers can make their music available on YouTube and Google Play via TuneCore, but with the platforms technically being under the same umbrella, this appears to be a play towards creating a better overall user experience for music consumers. As streaming services acquire new subscribers every day, access to independent music grows and artists are able to make themselves available to fans who use all different ‘preferred platforms’ for discovering new tunes.

There’s an array of possible reasons for this internal shift at one of the biggest media companies in the world – perhaps as a move to simplify in-app listening, and more interestingly, a way for Google to negotiate deals with artists and labels. Either way, users of both apps will be able to continue using them as normal for now, and it’s highly possible that artists can look forward to a simpler way to reach YouTube- and Google Play-loyal fans in the near future.

 

Spotify’s Latest Partner is … a Weather Company?


We all know that weather impacts our moods. We all also know that music can play a similar role. But how do listeners build playlists that capture any given climate?

Ever the forward-thinking streaming platform, Spotify announced in February that is partnering with weather reporting website AccuWeather to develop and launch a site called Climatune, offering playlists for various cities based on varying weather conditions. This comes after partnerships with modern apps and companies like Uber, Tinder and Headspace, and shows that Spotify has no intention of slowing down its pace of clever collaboration with those looking to bring music into the fold.

So instead of just throwing on Banarama on those sunny days or curling up to some Morrisey during a morning rainstorm, Climatune offers playlists to music fans based on the hours and hours of research in major cities pointing to habits of listeners based on the skies. For example, did you know that residents of Chicago get excited when it rains, causing a huge lift in happier music? Houston Spotify subscribers, on the other hand, boost their acoustic listening by 121% on rainy days.

While it remains to be seen just how many subscribers will utilize this cool new service, we here at TuneCore see it as just another interesting avenue for music discovery via the popularity of playlists.

5 Things Artists Can Do to Build Their Network

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Rich Nardo. Rich is a freelance writer and editor, and is the co-founder of 24West a full-service creative agency focusing on music and tech.]

 

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or what aspirations you have for yourself professionally, at the end of the day you’re only as strong as your network. In the past, there was a bit of a stigma about artists being active in terms of connecting with music business professionals beyond playing shows and hoping their manager can get a label rep or two out to see them play. For a musician or band to be viewed as an “artist”, it had to appear they didn’t care how successful they were. The rule of thumb for creating a successful music career was to “get in the system without personally engaging in it”. As a result, a lot of artists ended up getting completely ripped off by said system or never truly reached their potential as a career musician because they felt it was ‘uncool’ to take matters into their own hands. Thankfully, those times are done.

In the 90s, we saw punk and hip hop bust open the door and show that you could be a ‘cred’ artist and still handle your business as a professional. One look at what Jay Z did with Rockafella or Brett Gurewitz (of Bad Religion) did with Epitaph (and all its subsidiaries) will put to bed the idea that real artists don’t involve themselves in the business of the business. In the subsequent years, this has trickled down to each level of artist; from Metallica finally gaining the rights to all their masters a few years ago to the bedroom producer running their own press and Spotify campaigns around their singles.

Here are five ways that independent artists can be more aggressive in taking their fate into their own hands:

1. Facebook and Linkedin Groups

Okay, so maybe involving yourself in Linkedin Groups is a little ambitious for most artists, but there are plenty of Music Business Networking groups on Facebook. I pull new contacts and valuable strategic information from these sorts of groups literally every day. While a lot of my personal favorite groups are invite only, there are plenty that are open for anyone to join. Start joining these groups first and gradually as your network grows you’ll gain access to some of the more exclusive ones. Same principle applies to Linkedin groups if you’re willing to delve into those waters as well.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Cold Email

A lot of people are under the impression that it’ll be a waste of time to email the people they look up to, but doing so can lead to the biggest breaks you’re going to find. What’s important is to just do so with tact. Don’t email an A&R from your favorite label or the guitarist in that band you’ve been obsessed with lately to speak about yourself or ask a favor. Hit them up with specific questions and ask for advice that doesn’t require them to commit to anything. For example…do you really love a particular manager’s roster? Do they always seem to release music in the way you wish you did? Find a contact there and reach out.

Here’s a basic example of a way to reach out that may be fruitful for you:

Hey <artist manager>, my name is Rich and I am a songwriter. I currently play in a band called <band name>. We’re about to release our first record and I am really big fan of the way you roll out new singles with your roster. I was wondering if I could buy you a cup of coffee or shoot over a couple of questions via email to pick your brain a little bit if that’s okay? Thanks so much for your time and I look forward to hearing back from you!”.

3. Go To Networking Events

Same principle as the Facebook Networking Groups but in real life. If you live in a major city like Chicago, Austin, New York or Los Angeles there are ample such events you can find and attend. If you don’t, start your own group. It may be sparsely populated at first but it’ll grow over time. Also, keep in mind that when you’re first getting started these events are about quantity. When you’re starting out you should try to meet anybody and everybody in your city that is involved in the music industry. As you progress, you can hone in on those with events specifically for the bigger players.<

4. Embrace the Hashtag

There are certain hashtags that you should monitor and look to throw yourself into the resulting conversation on Twitter, for instance #MusicBiz. This is a great way to figure out what is currently trending in your professional world, engage others with the same goal and start establishing yourself as someone that people should take seriously. The same sort of success can be achieved by following music business professionals and engaging them in conversation around industry-related articles or thoughts that they post.

5. Collaborate!

A beautiful thing about a music ‘scene’, whether in real life or digitally, that often gets overlooked is the exposure to each others network. Whether you’re collaborating with another artist on a local show or tour, creating a networking group or writing/recording a song together, if you work together both of your networks will automatically double for the endeavor.

If you take a little time each day to dedicate to these suggestions, you will see incredible gains in terms of your understanding of the music business, as well as, the number of opportunities that are presented to you. Also, it puts you in a position where you have a lot more of the chips on your side of the table when the time is right to start talking to labels and managers about your project.