Posts Tagged ‘Cara Austin’

Why I'm kissing Tumblr a sad, sad good-bye

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

My company has a lot of blogs for the various businesses that I’m starting – 52 to be exact. Most of them are run on WordPress, which I really like, one is run on an old install of TypePad (which is clunky, but might be because I need to update), and one is run on Tumblr.

I love Tumblr. I love the user interface, the way that you can post quick snippets of things. Quotes, pictures, text, links…it is fun to use. And the templates are awesome. The Cara Austin blog is on Tumblr, and it’s a delight to update every day.

Sad Good ByeBut there is a fundamental problem with Tumblr that I wasn’t aware of before I started using it – the search engines don’t seem to like it. In the two months since I have been posting (every weekday starting March 13, 123 posts total), the blog has only received 17 visitors from Google. Every one of those visits, except one, had the term “Cara Austin blog” or “Cara Austin Tumblr” as the search term.

This is a major problem for a commercial blog. I have a personal Tumblr that I use for my own things, notes, things I want to remember – and I don’t care if no one ever comes to that site. But for Cara Austin, a musician who needs to get her name out there and needs to sell albums, this is a big issue.

I didn’t know this about Tumblr. I didn’t know that the pages wouldn’t be indexed well (or show up high) on Google. I knew that Tumblr doesn’t have comments. And I knew that Tumblr didn’t have a search engine built in. These things I decided to live with.

But I didn’t know that Tumblr had a search engine optimization (SEO) problem.

I could no longer ignore the fact after I launched another new blog on WordPress on April 23, put up a few posts, and that blog starting receiving more traffic, from a wider variety of search terms, in a much shorter time period.

Here’s a little chart to illustrate:

Tumblr SEO chart

And so I’m leaving Tumblr. I’m leaving with a tear in my eye, but I’m leaving nonetheless.

Photo by Jaye_Elle

MySpace vs. iTunes

Friday, April 4th, 2008

My most recent article for The Industry Standard just went up – How MySpace Music could beat iTunes. If you’re interested, please give it a read!

The music industry is something that I’m really thinking about lately with the launch of Fat J Records and signing Cara Austin – so the recent news about iTunes overtaking Wal-Mart and MySpace Music’s launch are both of great interest to me. And there are a lot of things about the MySpace vs. iTunes topic that I didn’t have space to include in my article for The Standard. So I thought I would just list them here, kind-of stream-of-thought.

MySpace logoMySpace Music can beat iTunes by supporting musicians. This is the premise of the article that I wrote for The Standard. Basically, I think that if MySpace Music provides data about the fans that purchase music, ticket and merchandise to the musicians, it can beat iTunes. Go read the article for the whole argument.

CDBaby is a model of how MySpace Music could work. CDBaby is an unbelievable music retailer that caters only to independent artists. And this is what its privacy policy says (these points are directed at buyers who visit the site):

“Only the musician whose music you buy will know who you are. If you don’t even want the musician to know about you, just say so at the bottom of your order form.”

I use CDBaby to sell CDs for Cara Austin, and so far, NOT ONE person has requested that CDBaby withhold their contact information. This is because people who go so far as to buy a CD are usually fans – and they don’t mind the band or artist being able to contact them again in the future.  According to the company’s Website, CDBaby has sold 4,202,465 CDs to customers resulting in $71,482,212 paid directly to the artists.

iTunes is a store, MySpace is a community. I read this quote from someone involved in the deal, and this is a really important point. While there are millions of people who buy music from iTunes, the MySpace community that uses MySpace to discover new artists and read about what they are up to, will be a powerful environment for making a purchase. With the possibility of revenue coming from MySpace, artists will do even more to make sure that their pages are attractive, interesting and compelling. And the community of music on that site is going to get stronger and stronger. Imagine 5 million musicians adding content, video, new songs and new song versions – this is going to be incredibly powerful and impossible for iTunes to rival.

Facebook’s chance to win in this space is shrinking by the minute. Facebook is gaining on MySpace in the social networking space, but Facebook’s support of music is, well, pathetic. They are going to have one shot to try to release a music platform that users will like (and use) but it’s not looking good. With MySpace’s announcement of the support of three of the four major labels, one possibility is that Facebook already has the support of the fourth (but that is highly unlikely and just speculative on my part).

International will be huge. I read that MySpace Music isn’t going to be able to distribute music internationally yet. What? What is the licensing issue with that? My suggestion – sign up all the indies asap and start selling to Japan, England, Australia, and everywhere else that has an appetite for U.S. music immediately – or else that could be a place that MySpace Music will be vulnerable.

DRM free matters, but won’t be the thing that wins it for MySpace. As part of the announcement, MySpace announced that they music that is sold from its music store will be DRM-free. (DRM=Digital Rights Management, it is the protection that Apple places on its files that prevents people from being able to share them.) This is a big deal, but not the biggest, as this will just (finally) compel Apple to follow suit with iTunes.

There is still a perception issue that could cause MySpace some serious problems. MySpace has kind of a seedy image. The site’s design is fairly unattractive, and it’s hard to navigate the social network without running into something that borders on pornography or spam. The company is going to have to do battle against that perception to win back people who have become disillusioned by previous negative experiences with MySpace.

Can Apple prevent iPods from using this service? Technically, I’m not sure if there is a way for Apple to limit the sites from which the iPod can download music, but if users are unable to load music from MySpace Music to their iPods, that would be a serious setback to MySpace. It also would likely cause a revolt among iPod users against Apple, but it would still be a hiccup in the acceptance of the service.

I'm launching a record label

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows that my company Pure Incubation is working on starting lots of companies. You probably also know that when I get to announce the launch of one of them, I am really excited (and usually a bit relieved!)

Fat J Records logoToday I get to announce that my latest project is launching: Fat J Records.

I’ve been working on getting this independent record label off the ground for awhile, but I feel like it’s finally official because I’ve signed my first artist: Cara Austin.

Check out her site here: www.caraaustin.com.

I’ve mentioned Cara Austin here before – because I really like her music – but now I am more than just a fan, I’m her label.

To be honest, I’m still figuring out all the kinks with what’s involved with owning and running a record label. The idea to even start this type of business came from a post that I wrote earlier this year about the music industry and the things that are changing with the way that music is sold and promoted because of the Internet. That post is here if you want to give it a read.

The bottom line about the online music business is that no one has it just right yet, so I figured that I might as well jump in now when all the fun stuff is happening.

One thing that I know for sure is that the Internet is changing the fan/artist relationship, and with that in mind, Cara Austin’s blog has launched on Tumblr. I think that the Tumblr microblogging platform might be just perfect for an artist blog that will likely include a lot of pictures, quotes, and short bits and links, as well as video and audio clips. I’m going to be the primary writer of the blog, and I won’t only be posting about Cara Austin and her musical career, but also about our adventures in exploring the online music industry – so feel free to give a read or follow us there.

Second, I don’t think that the online music business models are going to be figured out by one small independent label working alone. So with this post, I invite all of you to get involved. Do you have ideas about what needs to happen to change the music industry? Why don’t you post them here. Are you an independent record label yourself, or an Internet business that is making the best use of the new music models that are emerging? Let’s work together. Send me an email and let’s see if and how we can collaborate.

The launch of a business is always exciting. But today is particularly thrilling for me as the music industry is all new for me. It’s seems sure to be a wild ride.

Cara Austin back in stock

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

Just a quick note for those of you who read my take on Cara Austin’s debut CD and asked me to let you know when the CD was back in stock at Amazon.com – they are available now. Or you can find it at the Web site: www.CaraAustin.com.

Get one while they last!

Cara Austin debut is amazing

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

Cara Austin Send MeI have written about my friend Cara a number of times in the past, and today I am proud to annouce the launch of her new CD and Website. The CD – Send Me – is available for download or purchase at all the standard musical locations – Amazon.com, iTunes, Rhapsody, and CDBaby – but it SOLD OUT in the first day from Amazon, so they are waiting to get some more copies in and are temporarily out of stock.

I highly recommend that you check out these tunes – you’ll hear interesting lyrics, a great message that gets into your head and your soul, and I am constantly impressed with her songwriting skills.

Cara is one of the people who I admire most in the world – this is someone who everyone will want to get to know, check it out.

5 reasons that TuneCore has a place in the digital music revolution

Friday, December 21st, 2007

I first heard about TuneCore from my friend Mary when we were on a trip together in Baltimore. She is currently working on producing her first album, and I was picking her brain about digital distribution and manufacturing options for Cara Austin. Because of that conversation, I decided to use TuneCore to distribute Send Meto iTunes, Amazon and Rhapsody.

TuneCore logoSo far, the process has been seamless and I think that TuneCore will emerge as one of the Web sites that musicians can’t live without as the music industry continues to evolve and more and more control is in the hands of the artists. Why? Here are five reasons:

1) It’s a piece of cake to use. I have written step-by-step instructions for using a Web site application before, and although it seems like that type of writing would be easy, it is incredibly difficult to make sure that you remember every step and it’s also tricky to keep the language simple enough that it stays clear. Add on top of that the fact that it’s practically impossible to make step-by-step instructions not-boring. But TuneCore has done it all, and their FAQ may be the best one that I have ever read. It’s thatgood and helpful. Uploading music to the site was also really simple, and they are very clear about exactly how long it will take for the music to debut on the various services. (January 26, 2008 – Stay tuned!) I’m also in the process of manufacturing some CDs with them – I’ll let you know how that goes when the process is complete.

2) They give artists all the money they make. There are a number of other services that help musicians get their digital tunes up on iTunes (CDBabycomes to mind), but they all take a cut. Sometimes a small cut (CDBaby takes 9%), but TuneCore takes 0%. Nothing. They just charge a fee to process the stuff up front – $0.99 per track, $0.99 per store per album, and $19.98 per album per year for storage and maintenance. All the money that the songs earn goes to the artists. Plus, it’s really smart that they are charging $19.98 PER YEAR because that creates a recurring revenue stream that will only grow as more musicians sign up and use the service.

3) TuneCore “gets” musicians. I am not sure if the founders and people who work there are musicians, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are. Here’s a paragraph from their philosophy that reminds me of the movie School of Rock, the part where Jack Black’s character is talking about how rock music is really all about fighting “The Man.”

“Why should you have to give up money from each and every sale of your music? Why should you have to enter into exclusive deals and sign strangling contracts? Why should you have to give up your rights and the ownership of your own music to some other company just to gain access to music stores? TuneCore changes all that.”

4) They keep rolling out new features. Since I first looked into TuneCore, they’ve released a service that allows artists to create a branded Web page for their album (these can be seen in the TuneCore directory), the ability to upload music videos to iTunes, and cool metrics, like the ones shown below. They are also working on technology to offer daily tracking of how many songs are sold through the U.S. iTunes service, a feature that is bound to be a huge hit with musicians who are trying to figure out ways to get people to listen to their music and who I bet will easily become obsessed with monitoring the sales.

TuneCore Screenshot

5) Success stories and big-name artists. TuneCore has been able to sign up some big-name artists – Jay-Z and Public Enemy – to use the service, and it’s generated some really good publicity for them. I expect this will continue. They also have a success story that’s really compelling, an artist named Eric Hutchinson who rocketed to fame after he was mentioned by celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. This type of rags-to-riches story is going to be really attractive to musicians who are trying to make it, and should only help to increase the popularity of the service.