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Music Marketing

Posted By Musician Coaching on July 6th, 2013

A blog for musicians and music industry people. It is a free educational resource and it is also the way I advertise my music consulting services. I am an entertainment professional with deep roots in the music industry. Throughout my music career I have been a major label A&R representative, a music supervisor, an artist manager, a reality show producer, a bass player and the head of a digital record label.

 

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How to Promote Your YouTube Channel

Posted By Musician Coaching on November 6th, 2013

Jon Baltz is the Co-Founder and Vice President at INDMUSIC, the largest multi-channel network on YouTube managing rights and optimizing channels for unsigned musicians, labels and music content creators. Prior to INDMUSIC, Jon co-founded Movement Booking, working as a concert promoter, tour manager and a touring musician across the Southeast specializing in metal, hardcore and garage rock.

 

JonBaltz (427x640) (2)

 

Jon talked to me about how INDMUSIC helps artists monetize their content on YouTube and manage their rights on the platform. He also shared some best practices for musicians that want to properly manage content, build an engaged fan base and enjoy a sustainable, long-term music career.    

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Thanks for taking some time to talk, Jon. How did you get started in the music industry?

 

JB:

 

I’ve worked as a tour manager, managed bands myself and also spent a long time doing content promotion. I was doing that in North Carolina and through a lot of the Southeast, and then my wife and I decided that we had done all we could there, and it was time to move on.

 

I moved to Los Angeles, where I reconnected with Brandon Martinez, who is the CEO and Co-Founder of INDMUSIC. He was working as a digital agent at the time doing a lot of deals with other YouTube multi-channel networks, or MCNs, including Machinima, StyleHaul, DanceOn, etc. As we were looking at these other verticalized multi-channel networks on YouTube, we had the idea that there wasn’t an opportunity on YouTube for independent musicians to 1) properly monetize their network and 2) have a group of people that were there to support them, not just on the monetization and rights administration, but also from the perspective of having a group of people available to guide them through the YouTube ecosystem. I’m sure you and your readers know that the YouTube system is constantly changing. Having someone there to coach you through even something as simple as how to start your channel and the best way to promote and own your content can be the difference between growing an audience and making a stable music career, and just putting up videos for nothing.

 

We looked at the space and went to Alan Debevoise, who is the CEO of Machinima, one of the largest YouTube networks in the gaming vertical. We pitched him on our idea, and he liked it and decided he wanted to invest in our company. We packed up our bags in L.A. and moved out to Brooklyn to start our company, because Brandon and I have always seen New York City as the hub of independent music and a place with that atmosphere of vibrant creativity. And when you combine that with the initiatives the city has put together for tech startups and digital companies, we saw an opportunity to create something really special here in Brooklyn.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

So, to boil it down, you guys help people make money on YouTube.

 

JB:

 

That’s the basic idea behind it. Right now, we have 280 channels in our network. And by selling advertising across 280 channels as opposed to one channel, we’re able to get better ad rates for our partners. The idea is that when you’re working on your own in the YouTube environment, you can do well; but by having this group behind you, you’re able to get higher ad rates and make more money for everyone.

 

At the same time, our company is also there to do a lot of the rights administration that independent musicians are not necessarily aware of. They might log into YouTube and not realize they can claim publishing rights on YouTube. Or, maybe they sold a song in Europe to another company to administer the rights, and they didn’t know that company was claiming there, but their content wasn’t being claimed in North America. That’s where INDMUSIC comes in to make sure all the rights are being properly administrated when musicians own their music.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

And I know you also monetized “Harlem Shake.”

 

JB:

 

Yes, although, we were not responsible for it actually taking off. I wish I could replicate that success every day. We monetized the meme. Mad Decent has been one of our partners for almost two years now and was one of our first label partners. They had put out the single on their digital singles and EP label called Jeffree’s. When that video first posted on February 4, we were able to administer the master and publishing rights on behalf of the label. I should also add that once Warner Music and Universal Distribution got involved, we were also able to very easily transfer the rights to the proper owners and make sure everyone was getting their fair share.

 

That’s a very important thing for indie music. It’s not just about making sure our artists are making money. It’s also about making sure the YouTube system is clean, and everyone is getting paid. Obviously the music industry can be full of a lot of pitfalls when it comes to who gets owed what. When we’re able to sort out the system and make sure everyone is getting their just percentage, everyone wins.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Clearly YouTube is just another area of the music industry where rights seem overly complicated, so I’m glad there are specialists like you.

 

From your vantage point, you must know a lot about “Do”s and “Don’t”s of setting up a YouTube channel. What are some of the biggest mistakes you see artists making on YouTube?

 

JB:

 

I think the first thing musicians don’t necessarily realize on the YouTube platform is that there are different types of music accounts. For example, there is a lot of buzz in the media industry around a lot of these larger networks like Fullscreen and Maker Studios. And there’s also a lot of buzz around the lawsuits they’re running into with the music publishing associations. The reason for this is that there are two different types of networks on YouTube. There are networks like INDMUSIC – music-specific networks that include a sound recording/audio-visual agreement with YouTube, which allows us to separate out the individual sound recording and publishing rights on the platform. A lot of these other networks are considered by YouTube to be entertainment MCNs, which means they can’t separate out those different rights.

 

A lot of musicians will get started and put up cover videos or videos of them playing in their bedroom without claiming a video as “Web” on YouTube, they’re claiming they own 100% of the rights on the video. Obviously, that isn’t true with cover songs. So, that’s easily the biggest misstep I see:  People who aren’t aware of the different types of agreements they can have with YouTube and how to navigate those rights.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

And as a musician, before you are in a place where you’re partnering with an MCN, is there a way you can manage content on your own in order to set everything up properly and promote your content?

 

JB:

 

I think this problem applies to any aspect of the music industry, from album releases to tours:  People don’t go into the YouTube platform with a distinct digital plan. They don’t’ have a release schedule for videos or know how they will keep updating content. YouTube is a lot like a parking meter:  If you don’t come back and keep feeding it with new content, people will start ignoring you. When you’re releasing a music video, you can’t just upload a video to your channel and walk away from it; you have to think about what’s coming next.  How will you support that video? Are there media outlets that will help you best use your content?

 

Many people see YouTube as a promotion network that acts a lot like MTV did in the early days. But we’ve seen through Vimeo and others that music videos can actually be a big source of revenue for artists. They need to be aware of this concept, not just from a monetization perspective, but also from the perspective of owning and controlling their own rights and everything that comes along with that. I see a lot of people that will just post a video and walk away.

 

On a similar note, a lot of people don’t realize that YouTube is a social media website more than anything else. They don’t realize that the audience will promote for you and be your biggest advocates. Many artists will post videos, but they won’t tell their fans to subscribe to the channel, come back for more content, or to even just “like” a video. When a user “like”s a video, it appears in their feed on the user’s channel. So, if you are an artist, someone else can promote your video on their channel just by “like”ing it on your channel.

 

You also need to be sure you engage with the YouTube community. That’s how a lot of artists have been able to build their careers on the platform; they’re able to harness that community and the social aspect of YouTube.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Can you point to any artist that may not be a household name but is using the platform very well?

 

JB:

 

I think the best example of that would be Boyce Avenue. They are one of three bands on the platform with over a billion views on their YouTube channel. The way they got there was, first, by starting to put up videos in 2006, putting out a constant stream of content since then and engaging actively with their fans. Through that audience they built, they were able to sign a record deal with Universal. They ultimately decided they didn’t like the situation, got out of the record deal and were able to buy the record back from Universal. Many artists do not get that opportunity. They were able to accomplish all this because of downloads of their album and touring. They tour worldwide and recently played a sold-out show at Webster Hall in New York City. When they return, they will likely sell out Terminal 5 just based on the strength of their YouTube channel. It’s strange when you consider you won’t see them on the Top 40 charts, but they do just as well as many of the pop acts out there.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

What are some of the best practices for artists that want to get the most out of their YouTube channels and see this type of success?

 

JB:

 

The most important thing to remember is that when someone lands on your channel and sees one of your videos, you want to make sure you get more than one view out of the person. So, it’s about putting your videos in playlists that are similar in format, telling a user to go to the next video. It’s also about making a user aware of when you add new videos:  “Every Tuesday, I post a new video.” People will tune in like it’s a television program, because they know every Tuesday they can expect new content from you.

 

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to be talented, engaging and putting out something people want to see. But being successful on the platform is also about making YouTube work with your other digital properties – making sure your YouTube channel is aligned with Twitter, Facebook, etc. And you need to show a little bit of your personality and allow people to connect with you. As I mentioned earlier, YouTube is a social media site, and people want to feel like they are getting to know you and that you are being authentic to the personality you’re putting forward.

 

Boyce Avenue is engaging with their fans, and these fans feel like they really know them. Also, these guys are just really insanely smart people who, apart from putting together playlists and adding annotations, etc. are constantly analyzing the data YouTube gives them on the back end. For instance, they will see that they have a large following in Florida or that Pennsylvania is a state that has a lot of people in it watching their videos. Those analytics are very valuable when you are thinking about where to tour and how you can take the YouTube platform on stage and make it a part of your career, instead of just a place you’re putting videos online.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

I think a lot of artists look at YouTube as a locker for their content rather than a promotional platform.

 

JB:

 

And I certainly use it as a locker for my video content, but my videos are mostly of my four-year old son and not designed to further a music career.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

I get a lot of questions from musicians about SEO. Other than tagging and having a popular channel in general, are there best practices for helping make sure your cover songs show up at the top of search results? Are there SEO algorithms for YouTube?

 

JB:

 

I think one of the most underutilized but critical tools for artists is a Google+ page. You need to set up a Google+ page, then link that Google+ page to your website and also your YouTube channel. When you have all that data surrounding you on all those Google products, Google will place a higher value on your YouTube channel than it will place on someone who doesn’t have those verified accounts at all. It’s very important for you to have that Google+ sites linked up, not only because it tells Google you are a verified site, but also because when someone is searching, if you have a Google+ page with proper information, you get a nice box that springs up in the right side of the search page explaining everything on your Google page that also links to your Wikipedia page and other properties.

 

I know a lot of people like to look down their noses at Google+. But the truth of the matter is, when you team it up with proper SEO and verification with your website and YouTube, it can be a really powerful thing.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Do you have any parting words of advice for artists that want to get the most out of the YouTube platform?

 

JB:

 

Artists need to come to the platform with a plan and a specific release schedule. They also need to keep in mind that there will be a lot of YouTube channels out there that will ask for their videos and essentially make money off their hard work. At INDMUSIC, we always encourage everyone to take full ownership of not only their music but also their brand. It’s more important now than ever to own your music and own yourself.

 

To learn more about Jon Baltz and the work he does with indie artists on YouTube, check out the official INDMUSIC website and YouTube Channel, or follow Jon on Twitter.

Music Video Promotion

Posted By Musician Coaching on August 9th, 2013

This interview was originally published in March, 2010.

 

Andy Gesner and Rob Fitzgerald are the two principals in the music video promotion company Hip Video Promo. Andy was a musician who had been in and out of rock bands, created the Artists Amplification community and after doing similar video promotion work with other companies founded Hip Video Promo in 2001. Rob came on board in 2006. Hip Video Promo gets music videos played on music television shows across the country. Hip works both for major label artists and independents.

 

hipvideologo

 

Andy and Rob discussed the function of a video promotion company and how technology has changed the music video landscape. They also shared some tips for artists looking to get their videos seen and grow their fan base.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

So give me a basic overview of your company and what you guys do.

 

RF:

 

I deal a lot with the clients themselves in terms of getting all the assets together that we need to get out the door, like the masters and making sure everything is closed captioned, and that we have the proper photographs and bio information, one sheets prepared, etc. That in and of itself can be a hassle to people not familiar with the video.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Mass mailing in multiple video formats has to be a nightmare for someone that doesn’t know the difference.

 

RF:

 

Exactly. And technology has really changed the game a lot too. We have to keep up with it, because now we’re working a lot more with digital assets; things aren’t just coming in on beta tapes. There’s a lot of back and forth about how are we going to get the master delivered, how are we going to do this, get it dubbed properly, etc., etc. On that end, that’s a lot of what I do. And then we have another girl whose job is to make sure that the programmers are telling us what they’re doing with our videos. As a client, you certainly want to make sure that we’re sending the video out, but we need to be able to tell the clients who’s playing it. And if they’re not playing it, we need to know either why not or when they’re playing it. The thing with radio is, you have that centralized, universal chart that everyone reports to, whether it be CMJ, etc. You don’t really have that with video anymore. So it’s really up to the promoters to keep up with the individual programmers.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Doesn’t Nielsen or someone one track this anymore? You have to figure out how many spins there are via word of mouth?

 

RF:

 

No. There’s no tracking service. There used to be the CVC Report, which did that. But that went under probably four or five years ago. Since then it’s really been up to the individual promoter to keep in touch with the programmers. With that being said, a lot of programmers we work with are very good at sending out their weekly tracking or their monthly or bi-monthly tracking. But there is definitely a certain element of being the heavy hand had that says, “We’re not going to be spending our clients’ money to make these dubs and send them to you if you’re not telling us what you’re using. We need to, aside from supply content to them, give information back to our clients. If we can’t do that, we can’t send you the video.” Another member of our team is in charge of all the programmer intake and keeping track of address changes, what shows come on the air, what shows go off the air and also getting all the tracking into reports. And then we have a few other people on staff who prepare reports and ascertain all the playlists and get everything ready to go back to the client.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

I noticed you mention you’re including a bio in the package. Is this similar to radio promotion in that all these programmers are remarkably overwhelmed, and you really need to have some kind of story that’s interesting, in other words the biographical information for your artists and the product itself are going to do a lot of the sales work for you?

 

RF:

 

I think with any kind of promotion, one of the first questions a promoter is going to ask is, “What’s the story? What’s going on with this band?” So, yes, that’s a big part of it. We want to give them every reason, aside from, “Here’s a great video,” “Here’s what else is going on with this band. They’re doing really well with radio, they’re getting great press, they’re touring with so and so.” We also want to get them all that information. As far as them being overwhelmed, for some of them it is. What it is a lot – we were talking about technology before – technology has made it a much more affordable venture to make a music video. With digital and everything, you don’t need a film camera and you don’t need all this stuff to make a video. You can really edit it and shoot it. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be any good necessarily, but technology has made many more people of the opinion that they are music video directors.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

I have seen some videos that cost next to nothing that were better than some million dollar videos.

 

RF:

 

The thing we love, and one of the things we tell a lot of clients is, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make a music video, but you have to have a good idea. That’s what kind of separates the men from the boys in music video world. No, you don’t have to spend a lot of money; but a lot of people don’t spend a lot of money and they’re trying to make their video look like they spent a lot of money. A good idea, a good concept, a good execution will embrace the fact that there wasn’t a lot of money spent on it. They’re not trying to make it look like they spent a lot of money on it; they’re trying to make it look like they have a cool concept. So, absolutely, you don’t have to spend a lot of money, but because you don’t, a lot of people that don’t have a good vision or the talent to make a good-looking video are still making videos. With the rise of something like YouTube, video has become a much more important component, whereas maybe six or seven years ago, people were saying, “Oh, MTV’s not playing as many videos. The video format is a dying breed.” Then all of a sudden you get your whole viral element, and video shoots back to the top of being a big priority for bands.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Before we jump into digital — I notice that you guys are sending out a lot of physical different formats, but you’re actually sending something you can hold – a DVD or the various formats – to programmers across the board for terrestrial video outlets. Let’s say an artist made a video and they are looking to use this piece of their marketing toolkit to get them somewhere. Are there a lot of options for people like that to get test spins on different regional or niche video outlets offline?

 

AG:

 

I’ll take this one. I would have to say that going back to your question about bios and about presentation, we go to great lengths to present each artist in a way that is unlike a lot of other promotions companies where they might just take the band’s bio and maybe rehash it a little. For us it’s almost as if we’re the band’s team of lawyers and we’re going into the courtroom of indie rock music video opinion. We really have to give these people an intriguing, compelling reason to give these artists – of which many are very independent – programming consideration. What we’ve come to find is that whether it’s a bad like Spoon or Moby or the Gaslight Anthem, that you know are going to grab people’s attention because they are already a known quantity, we have hundreds of success stories of bands that were just flying under the radar but because the video was so incredibly outstanding, it more or less became the anchor of their marketing campaign moving forward.

 

These are the kinds of success stories that lead to tons of repeat business for us, because radio has really locked the indies out. Press is so expensive that even if you plunk down $5,000 or $8,000, who’s to say that anyone is going to actually write about you and write favorably? A compelling video and a video that really has an impact on viewers is going to definitely help an artist, especially independently, to really get to that next level so when they go out for the next record or the third record, they’re going to be in a situation where they’re a known quantity. There are so many stories like that where people are coming back because they got so much great feedback on the video that they realized, “Hey, people want to see it, they want to hear it.” The attention span of the normal American these days has become so small that they really want a full story, whether it be visual or audio or print so that they can make an informed decision.

 

RF:

 

One thing I’d add is that a lot of the programmers we service, on the terrestrial level, or even really on any level, have that independent mentality where they’re going to get the name bands, and obviously those are going to get on there because they’re established and well known but a lot of these guys are just looking for something they like.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

I guess my question is, are there are still traditional terrestrial video outlets where a independent artist can get spun?

 

RF:

 

Absolutely.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Again, most people say, “Well, I want this on MTV,” but they don’t know. On Fuse you get a little bit of a better shot. If you’re a gay artist, there’s Logo. If you’re a hard rock artist, I’m sure there are outlets like that. There’s Manhattan Neighborhood Network if you want to go really, really small. It’s just good to know that those are out there.

 

Here’s a good question. Where should every artist, whether they can afford your services or not, be online? Is it going to YouTube or TubeMogul to kick it out to the major players? What would you say to someone that has no budget or blew their entire budget on making the video and now wants to get that video exposed?

 

RF:

 

The same thing I would say to a band that wants to do anything and doesn’t have the budget:  Do as much as you possibly can yourself. I’m sure you see it with A&R and stuff. The bands that get the furthest and accomplish the most are the ones that will never let anyone work harder for them than they will.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

I guess I meant specifically. Are there outlets where everyone should be? Who are the usual suspects?

 

RF:

 

Stuff like YouTube and a lot of those sites where you can upload it yourself and get it on there, there are tones of sties of that nature, whether it be YouTube, Yahoo, AOL etc. On our end, we don’t dive head-first into all the digital realms because that gets into a whole new world with viral marketing teams, and a lot of times when we get into a project with teams, we kind of overlap. They have someone that is more specific to the blogs and everything. We do work with places like AOL, Yahoo.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

My understanding is that those services do have a programming staff.

 

RF:

 

Right. And we work with sites like that where we feel that we can get them the video, and then we can also do more above and beyond just getting it on their site.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

And that’s a good question. Obviously relationships are always necessary, but are relationships the difference between getting spins on serious sites like that vs. maybe getting tested once?

 

RF:

 

I think first and foremost your product is the biggest thing. That’s the difference, which we try to stress a lot to bands: “Make sure you have something that you’re totally confident in.”

 

Musician Coaching:

 

I didn’t mean to make that sound so black and white. I guess, putting aside talent and somebody who wrote a single as obvious as, say, Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” are relationships essential for getting regular rotation for something on those outlets in most cases?

 

RF:

 

I think in a lot of situations, it’s a huge benefit, because the guy who is giving your video to them can pick up the phone and get that guy on the phone and have a conversation about that, then your video has just gone to the top of that pile. He now has your video specifically written down on his to-do list for the day instead of it just blindly coming in and sitting in a pile of the other 50-some videos they got in that week.

 

AG:

 

One of the toughest parts of my job is, over nine years we’ve had to tell many, many potential clients, “My staff and I have watched your video. The song is good, the video is good, but we don’t feel comfortable moving forward with you.” Basically, I’m trying to say in the best possible way that, “You know what potential client? Don’t lead off with this video.” A lot of times they will say, “So you don’t think the video is that good?” I never tell them that the video isn’t that good. I say, “Look, in this world, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. And this video might not be the first impression. You might want to go back to the drawing board.” And sure enough in numerous instances we’ve had bands come back nine months or 14 months later and are really appreciative of us and say, “You saved us from ourselves. You didn’t just take our money.” I don’t want to take bands’ money if we don’t feel confident that the video is going to get them the exposure or the attention they deserve. With that being said, we’re selective on the videos that we promote to our programmers, but the programmer is always the first to say, “We appreciate that you guys always send us the best of the best.”

 

Musician Coaching:

 

It was the same for people who would pitch A&R executives – your reputation was everything. When somebody became known as a peddler of shit in the A&R community they couldn’t get a meeting or anybody on the phone.

 

AG:

 

You use that expression I use all the time here in the office. Nine years into this, and I still haven’t become a shit merchant. And there are a ton of them out there. Each year I travel the country and visit my programmers and I take them out to their favorite restaurant or we go out to their favorite night club, and I’ve done this tour every year. A month from now I’m going to start my eighth tour of the country visiting my programmers, and yes – the programmers love to be shown love. They’re the first ones to tell me, “Andy, when that Hip video package comes to us it always goes to the top of the pile because we know we’re going to get a ‘Place to Bury Strangers,’ we know we’re going to get ‘Smile, Smile,’ or we know we’re going to get the new Spoon video from you. Don’t you guys have the new Frightened Rabbit Coming up? I can’t wait to get that!” Of course, for a lot of these bands like Frightened Rabbit, when we first promoted them two years ago, nobody knew who the hell they were. The same thing happened with Grizzly Bear. The first time out with Grizzly Bear, it was “Grizzly who?” But when you come back a second time around, boy does it make your job a lot easier.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Good to know.

 

RF:

 

Video is kind of like the weird, mysterious cousin in the promotion family. People don’t know how you do video. We definitely know there’s an element of uncertainty terms of what a video consists of.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

There’s a lot of this I certainly didn’t know.

 

AG:

 

Briefly, I wanted to mention that, whether it’s Jerry at JBTV in Chicago or Shirley at NY Noise in Manhattan or John Faulkner at Notes from the Underground in L.A., or Alternative Currents in Omaha, or Music Mix USA in Florida, these video shows have been around a long time and they really do have a rabid, loyal viewership. TV is a time-tested medium. People still want to sit in front of their TV and be fed it. Not everybody wants to go to the computer and search for it. With that being said, for  anyone that feels that terrestrial TV is going by the wayside, I beg to differ.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Let me ask you this – of all the videos you get, is there a common mistake, either technically or quality wise or anything that you would have people avoid? You just mentioned your screening process is a bit intense. What are some mistakes you see from independent bands making videos? What are some things people should avoid when making a video.

 

RF:

 

Well, say they were going to send it to the local, regional channel the thing that a lot of people do – you know when you watch a video and you have your band name, the song title, the director and the label on the bottom left-hand corner? That’s called a Kyron.   That’s something that the programmer puts on and the channel puts on and the show puts on because a lot of times they have a custom-made thing. What we see a lot now is that the director will put it on themselves. So we get a video, and we can’t send a video as far up as an MTV or as low down as a local, regional show, because they want to put their own graphic on there. So if you send it out with s self made kyron (*** Note -no clue how to spell this but I’m sticking with my first attempt***) on there, nobody’s going to be able to touch it. That’s kind of a common thing. With urban videos, it’s a little more black and white, because more of the current trend in the hip hop world is to have the big, splashy graphic on top that says the band name and the song title. That’s okay, because that’s more a part of the video. That’s something that’s part of the video itself. But the white block letters in the bottom left-hand corner.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

The floating text in the first few seconds, yes.

 

RF:

 

A lot of times the programmer will get a video and they’ll like it, and they’ll say, “That’s great, but you need to send it to me without the kyron.” One thing to keep in mind is that a lot of programmers, if they do a regular show – a show that airs a couple times a week, maybe it’s an hour long – they want to be able to program a bunch of videos. Not that we ever want to compromise anybody’s musical or artistic integrity, but the longer the video is, the less of a chance you’re going to have at getting it programmed. Because if you send a video for a song that’s five-and-a-half minutes long, you might have a programmer say,  “Hey, I could get two videos in this span of time instead of this one video eating up five-and-a-half minutes of the programming.” Personally speaking, it seems too bad to me that there’s the mentality that every song or every single needs to be three-and-a-half minutes long because some of my favorite songs are four-and-one-half-minutes or five-minutes long, but again, I’m not making up the rules, I’m just going with the reality of what people are looking for and what gives the best chance of air play. And lastly, I’d say if you’re looking for television broadcast type airplay, don’t push your luck with potentially offensive material.  Even though the Internet has kind of desensitized people to what is acceptable and what is offensive and what is not, censors think differently. People like to push the envelope, and if you’re going viral with it, that’s great; but if you’re going to have bare breasts or gratuitous butt shots, a lot of people are not going to play it for that reason. And it’s not like I’m telling people what to do with their videos, but that is the feedback that comes back from censors.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Suggestions for what not to do when trying to get your video aired are completely within the realm of the question. Andy, did you have something to add earlier?

 

AG:

 

We service over a dozen retail pools, better described as content providers. Whether it’s Club Com who gets the videos into fitness centers and gyms so that when you’re working out you can watch the cool new Spoon video, or if it’s Promo Only in Florida who provides their video reels to night clubs, night life locations, cruise ships, bowling alleys, or it’s DMX in Seattle, who hits all the major retailers in the malls you go to, or In-Store Sports Network who provide video content for Foot Locker and Foot Action …  they have to be cognizant of content, because they don’t want complaints coming back from customers saying, “Hey, I was in with my eleven-year old daughter, and that video had some salacious content.” Aside from the national outlets that will flag a video due to content, you’re also hurting yourself out there in content provider land, because you see videos everywhere you go. I go to my local oil change place, and they have videos playing in there. It’s all very much something bands should consider. If you want to get cute, like Rob says, or they want to get salacious, you’re going to be hurting your chances for exposure.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Just one last question:  Do you have any parting words of advice for artists out there making videos?

 

RF:

 

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so if you’re going to send your video, make sure it’s something you’ve taken the time to be really proud of. That’s really the gist of it. You can understand that promotion and your team and your contacts can only go so far if you don’t have a good product to work with. Take the time to make it right.

 

To learn more about Andy Gesner and Rob Fitzgerald and the work they do with music videos, visit the Hip Video Promo website

How to Make a Good YouTube Channel

Posted By Musician Coaching on March 28th, 2013

Roy LaManna is the founder and CEO of Trendsetter Media and Marketing.  He got his start in the music industry right out of high school, consulting on video projects for bands like Fall Out Boy and Nickelback when they were just starting out, helping them create more awareness around their videos and music. Fall Out Boy’s success led Roy to more video marketing work with the band’s management company, Crush Management and other bands like 40 Below Summer and E Town Concrete. As technology continued to produce new ways for artists at all levels to share music through video, Roy saw a need for music video services that were flexible enough to keep up with the constant evolution of video marketing. He formed Trendsetter Media and Marketing with the idea that the company would continue to pay attention to how music fans were finding content and discovering new music online. Since its launch in 2008, Trendsetter has become a leader in the promotion and marketing of visual content. Through the company, Roy has worked with artists such as Gotye, Dev, Chickenfoot, Kem, Justin Bieber, Fresh Beat Band, Big Time Rush, Joss Stone and many others. In addition to Trendsetter, Roy has recently launched MusicVideoSubmissions.com, which allows artists to digitally deliver and monetize music videos in thousands of locations worldwide and Fangate, a Facebook fanpage builder with built-in promotional tools.

 

RoyLaManna-480x330

 

I talked to Roy about how the music video market has evolved since the early 2000s and how music fans are discovering and sharing new music online. He also offered up some best practices for artists that want to create compelling YouTube channels that contribute to their overall marketing efforts and significantly grow their fan bases.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Thanks so much for taking some time to talk, Roy. How did you get started in the music business?

 

RL:

 

I consulted for some smaller bands right out of high school – bands like Fall Out Boy and Nickelback when they were just starting out, before they got to be huge. Fall Out Boy was being managed by Bob Mclynn at Crush Management in Manhattan. I knew him, so I consulted and created awareness for their first video. Because of their success, I started getting more and more work and working a lot with Crush and bands like 40 Below Summer and E Town Concrete.

 

Crush was a small operation at the time – one room in the city. And it was at the infancy of video. Before that, there was only MTV. Either you got on MTV, or you dealt with all these regional shows that no one really cared about. If you got into video marketing, you would start out calling about 200 local and public access shows, asking them to play music videos. They would send you a playlist and tell you they had shown it, and you just had to take their word for it, because there was not necessarily always a way to confirm it. It was about small bands and small, regional local outlets and making about 500 phone calls and faxing playlists. It was a lot of grunt work.

 

I had two things on my side. For one, technology advanced in my favor as someone involved with video. Technology really moved away from a lot of other people in the industry. The prevalence of video online worked on my favor, and then also, it was 2000 or 2001, and I was working with a lot of indies. And before downloading killed indie bands and labels, it actually helped them significantly, because they were able to do things more cheaply, and people were still buying records. And that time period was really the rise of the indie movement. A lot of independent labels found it easier to put out records, sell stuff and reach a real audience.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

I know Trendsetter deals in video marketing. How did your company develop and what services do you offer?

 

RL:

 

Before I even started the company, I noticed video marketing was constantly evolving. And I saw a need for services that were flexible enough to keep up with this constant evolution. So, I decided I was going to form a company and name it Trendsetter with the idea that we wouldn’t stick to just one thing. I noticed a lot of companies were providing one set service. Then the technology would move away from them, and their service wouldn’t be relevant anymore. And they wouldn’t really reinvent themselves.

 

I wanted Trendsetter to be able to keep up with changes in the music video landscape. From the beginning, I have walked into the office every day and asked myself, “Where are people finding content?” and “How are people discovering new music, whether connected to video or not?” And we shape the direction of the company based on the answers to those questions.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

And you definitely have a unique vantage point because you spend more time than most trying to figure out those answers. It’s almost April, 2013:  Where are people finding music video content these days, and what does the overall landscape look like?

 

RL:

 

I still think that the majority of music discovery in general is happening on YouTube. But I think people industry people are putting a lot of focus on social media outlets that don’t really convert into anything. If you take any artist – or a good handful of them – that has really come out of nowhere and blown up, I think you would find that YouTube played a big part in their success. Sometimes I would say it’s the only reason these artists are discovered – artists like Karmin and even Justin Bieber and a lot of others. YouTube is breaking more artists than any other platform. MySpace had some artists that broke out, but aside from that Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and all those other outlets are cool to have, but they are just not YouTube. Artists regularly overlook the fact that YouTube is a great place for them to be and a wonderful tool for discovering new artists.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Obviously a lot of the stuff you guys do is related to positioning – aligning content with Vevo or helping with publicity around a video on sites like MTV.com, VH1.com and other sites totally unrelated to Viacom as well. But on a lower level, what advice would you give to artists looking for the “stumble-upon” factor? What do you feel that most artists can do for free or at a very low cost to help themselves that they are not doing when it comes to video content?

 

RL:

 

One of the things I often tell artists to do is to Google themselves and really think about the customer experience. When they do that, you’d be surprised by how often they will realize just how difficult it is to find them.

 

As an artist, if you accept that YouTube is a great place for people to discover you, you have to figure out how someone will actually really discover you on the channel. They’ll always find you if they type in your name. But they have to know you and your music already in order to get to that point.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Well, and you need to get people who don’t know you by name but are looking for what you’re offering to find you.

 

RL:

 

Exactly. What I try to emphasize to artists relevant to YouTube is that it’s a big search engine. It’s basically Google for video, which means there is some search engine optimization (SEO) involved. There are some little techniques you need to know about related to that. You need to be aware of how people are searching for music and also the bands that sound like you that other people will be searching for. It’s about putting those names into your channel tags and structuring the title of the video correctly.

 

Just as an example, a lot of artists try to get discovered by doing covers, but they don’t realize that the order of the words in the title of the video makes a huge difference. If you titled the video “Rihanna Cover of X Song by X Artist,” it would actually be found more easily than if you put your artist or band name first. Rihanna gets preferential search treatment, because fans will obviously be more likely to type in her name in order to look for her songs and covers of her songs.

 

Another detail that is important is thumbnails. When people are searching for other music videos, often all they have to go on is a thumbnail sitting in the corner of the screen. We’ve done research on this as well. We took a big sample of the videos that had really blown up and put them side by side to figure out what they had in common. And a lot of them have really distinct thumbnails. The image the person sees will often compel them to click. So, if you had a video where the thumbnail was just a wall, it will be far less engaging than if you have an image that grabs someone’s attention and makes them want to click.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

And that explains why there are all these videos out there with girls in bikinis as thumbnails.

 

RL:

 

Yes. And even if you look at the thumbnails for videos outside of the music industry that get a lot of hits, you’ll notice that they have a lot of bright colors and other attention-grabbing elements.

 

I see many of the same mistakes with videos across the board. You need to make sure that aside from great content, your video has a call to action, so you’re getting a conversion on some level. Your call to action doesn’t necessarily have to be getting them to buy your music on iTunes; it could be getting people to subscribe to your channel, “like” you on Facebook, etc. Once someone finds you, you need to get them to engage with you in some way.

 

When you look the ads on YouTube, you’ll notice that a lot of times they have other companies advertising there. But YouTube will let you put your own advertisement up for free and have it pop up and say, “Make sure you ‘like’ us on Facebook” or “subscribe to our channel” – something that grabs them so they can search for you. You need to take advantage of the fact that you have their attention and make sure they can find more content from you in the future.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Do you have any best practices for artists for setting up their channels? Obviously if you turn on the ad revenue feature, I know you can customize your channel a little bit better. But is there more to it than that?

 

RL:

 

We definitely advise the people we work with to set up their channels as professionally as possible, with some type of consistent branding message and a consistent call to action across all their videos.

 

But the majority of people coming across your videos for the first time – even if they like your music – aren’t going to immediately go buy something. Initially, if you have a smaller fan base, it’s important that you set up calls to action that allow people to find more of your content. If you can connect them to your mailing list or get them to “like” you on other social media outlets, then you’re going to get a benefit from it. So, I think the most important idea is to design your channel with the user experience in mind.

 

There are people who design their channels solely based on user experience – making sure that experience is as great as it can be. One of the things I try to emphasize to the people I work with is that if you decide, for example, you want to get users viewing your videos to subscribe to your YouTube channel, all the calls to action have to be “above the fold,” which means the “subscribe” message has to be visible before they scroll down on the page or click on “view more.” There should be as many calls to action above the fold as possible.

 

The other thing I recommend is that you give as few choices as possible. So if you want them to subscribe to your channel, make that the sole action they can take, rather than having a series of messages:  “subscribe to our channel;” “follow us on Facebook;” “follow us on Twitter;” “find us on Pinterest.” If you set up ten calls to action, you’re going to dilute your audience, especially if you don’t have a big team behind you. You need to focus in on one or two socials and really work those, then try to grow from there.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Obviously YouTube is huge for artists. But can you recommend any other platforms that artists should be focusing on that have real impact or are on the rise?

 

RL:

 

We set up Dailymotion accounts for a lot of people. That doesn’t show up on most artist’s radar. But we’ve noticed Dailymotion is more likely to do rev-share deals with independent artists. What we’ve found is that artists that have set up a partner account sometimes will get a CPM of $3 – $5 per thousand. That adds up pretty quickly. The YouTube rev share is significantly lower. You may get a fraction of the views you get on YouTube, but it’s still putting money in your pocket.

 

Another thing is Vevo, which is essentially a lot like YouTube. Vevo is doing a lot of things I really like right now, which is why we’ve partnered with them.

 

And this isn’t online, but we also work with a lot of retail chains to get videos in store. I feel like this has a positive effect, because when videos play in retail facilities, people really notice.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Yes. Foot Locker is a place where I’ll always notice videos if I’m in there.

 

RL:

 

Foot Locker always does well for us, and so does Journeys. I would say that Foot Locker, food courts and Justice Stores tend to get some of our best results for artists.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

Now, here’s a question I get asked a lot, and I’m sure you get asked this often as well. Is there anything someone can do to ensure a video goes viral? Obviously there are certain things you can do to give your video a better chance of being seen and having momentum, but is it the content itself that really determines whether or not a video goes viral?

 

RL:

 

I really don’t think there’s much you can do other than making the content good. If anyone had figured out the recipe to a viral video, that person would be pretty wealthy. Brands try to figure out the recipe all the time. One of the videos we worked on with Gotye was one of the biggest music videos of 2012, and he couldn’t replicate his results.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

It’s nice to have you verify, as a YouTube expert, that either people will pass your video on to friends if it’s great, or they won’t. Setting out to make a viral video is a setup for disappointment.

 

RL:

 

It really is. I always tell people to focus in on the video and the content itself. Even though our marketing team will certainly be instrumental in the success of a really popular video, there’s really no formula. We can do the same thing over and over again and not get the same results with every single artist.

 

When we originally worked on the Gotye video, as much as everyone on the team would’ve loved to have said we made it go viral, it really was just another project we were working on. And it was good and we all liked it, but we couldn’t have guessed it was going to get 386 million views and counting.

 

Trust me, my rates could go up significantly if I could guarantee a viral video. People often ask me if I can guarantee certain results on YouTube, and, really, no one can.

 

Musician Coaching:

 

I know you’re working on a new business as well. Can you tell me a bit more about that?

 

RL:

 

Sure. We’re also working on a digital distribution site:  MusicVideoSubmissions.com

 

One of the things we’ve done at Trendsetter as we’ve evolved is worked with a lot of Gold- and Platinum-level artists. And from the beginning, we’ve wanted to be very selective about the videos we work on and the artists we consult. We want to be able to work very closely with the content owner. And this has made us very limited in the projects we’ve been able to take on.

 

At the end of 2011, I had a lot of independent artists reaching out to me and looking for services. I’ll be honest – for most independent artists, a Trendsetter campaign is not the best use of money, because it’s a big investment. We’re one wheel on the promotional campaign vehicle, and without the other wheels in place, it doesn’t really work. Our services don’t work in a vacuum. I tell artists that their investment with us should only be 10% of their total marketing budget. The other 90 percent needs to be spent with other people making up an artist’s team. Many people want to hire only us, and that just doesn’t work.

 

It took us quite a while to figure out a service that was cost-effective for independent artists and artists with a smaller budget. I tried to figure out the return on investment, because that’s important to me. I wanted to feel like if an artist spent a dollar with me, that artist would get ten dollars back. I just feel like that’s a good way to run a business.

 

In late 2011, I started MusicVideoSubmissions.com, which is essentially access to our digital distribution network. It’s good, because people can be at their house or running an independent label or be a solo artist and get the video you created in front of a decision maker. And that decision maker could be at MTV, BET, MTV Jams, retail chains or even Vevo. We tested it out with a few people and saw some really great results. It’s grown exponentially since then and has spun off into its own company with its own employees. We service about 350 videos a month through that network. And a lot of people have seen some amazing results. It will be getting bigger too, because we just closed a deal with Vevo and did something with YouTube and Dailymotion. We’re helping people monetize their content and have some big plans for the future, so stay tuned.

 

 

To learn more about Roy LaManna and the work he does with artists, you can visit the Trendsetter Media and Marketing website or follow the company on Twitter and Facebook. Also be sure to check out his service for independent artists and labels, MusicVideoSubmissions.com.

Making Music Video with Darren Doane

Posted By Musician Coaching on April 22nd, 2010

Darren Doane is a film maker and music video director who has made dozens of music videos for high profile artists such as Jason Mraz, AFI, Kyuss, The Deftones, Blink 182, Colbie Caillat, Buckcherry, Zac Brown Band and Uncle Kracker and countless more. Darren also does film projects for several large ad agencies and consumer products. I was lucky enough to have a chance to chat with Darren about his approach and experience making music videos.

Darren Doane filming Jason Mraz

Music Consultant:
Darren, thanks for your time. Tell me a bit about how you became a video director for major label artists?

DD:
I wanted to draw comic books, and so that was my direction all throughout junior high and high school. At the same time, I grew up with a camcorder in my hand. I think my generation was the first generation raised with a camcorder – I’m 38 – that wasn’t weird. Not that the generation prior wasn’t raised with super 8 cameras in their hands, but there was something, “Wow, you had a video camera,” where super 8 cameras – everyone had a super 8 camera. “Dad had a super 8 camera, and that will be fun.” The cult of video that hit in the 80s made it cool.

In my senior year, I got all my rejection letters from places where I would pursue drawing comic books and I was stunned. I thought, “What do you mean Marvel and DC aren’t going to hire me?” I remember thinking, “Well, I better do something else.” And I loved music video. I was a music fanatic. And then all that got channeled really quickly. I said, “I love all that, and I love making little films and filming my friends’ bands.” I was a music video junkie.

Music Consultant:

Well, at 38, you were also the first of music video generation too.

DD:
Yes. I was raised on that, but I was raised on it in a way where I really liked music videos. I liked them so much that I remember when the Paula Abdul “Straight Up” video came out, I knew there was something even different about that video. I thought, “Wait a minute. Something’s going on here. You’ve got over-exposed lighting and you’re seeing the set.” I remember thinking, wow. At that time you didn’t have the Internet, so you couldn’t search for that. You had to search and get the pieces together and realize who David Fincher is. You would do some research and realize he shot Paula Abdul on a super 8 camera. Something clicked at that point. To this day I still have moments where I have to remind myself that David Fincher shot “Straight Up” on a super 8 camera. That’s only half the story because he was putting 35mm lenses onto these cameras, but he was shooting super 8. For whatever reason, I’m sure for musicians it was that young kid who saw Fugazi come through his town and just said, “Oh my God. I can do that and I want to do that.” It all kind of clicked and I decided to make music videos.

Music Consultant:
It’s funny that it started with a Paula Abdul video, because, correct me if I’m wrong, but you really started out with seminal hardcore and punk bands. That was how you cut your teeth making music video.

DD:
Oh yeah. But there’s a three or four year gap before any of that comes into play. I was just a young kid, 1990s when I graduated, so that’s still the 80s. The 90s hadn’t started yet. I was still going down to L.A. trying to meet bands and shoot their videos for them. In 1990, you looked at the musical scene and there was Jane’s Addiction, Alice in Chains, but there was also New Kids on the Block. You’ve got R&B groups and vocal singing groups. It was all on the charts at that time, so the musical landscape was very much what it is now 20 years later. At that time, I was meeting people who were in rock bands and people who were in three-piece harmony dance groups, I was meeting rap groups that were kind of Arrested Development style. That was 1990-1992. One of those bands got signed to MCA records, and they saw my little video and said, “We liked it.” Guys named Randy Philips and Arnold Steeple at MCA called me in and said, “We liked your work” and gave me a band called Brotherhood Creed, a rap group back in the 90s and a rock group called the Beauties. I liked all kinds of music and watched all kinds of music videos, so for me, I was making music videos. I couldn’t care less. It was great. I didn’t begin to impart any kind of cool or identity until much later. I was meeting people and A&R people and people that had done everything – managed, done A&R, etc. I was meeting people at different times, and a guy said, “Hey, I’m really good friends with a manager for this group called Kyuss. You should do their video.” I said, “Great” and went out Palm Desert and met Josh Homme and those guys, and next thing I knew I was shooting a Kyuss video. That meant nothing though- at they time they were just another band – just a heavy, grungy-sounding band. I did that video, but then it changed to get to the punk part, and I don’t know the exact date, but I remember the day. I was watching MTV, and I think I had just finished the Kyuss video, but it was still in post. I was watching MTV and realized that something just changed on MTV. I saw a director’s name. I remember seeing “If I Ever Fall in Love” by Shai, and “Director: Ian Fletcher.” That was ironic, because Ian went on to become a mentor of mine. Not too long after that, the Kyuss video got on Headbangers’ Ball as the last video. That was when Headbangers’ Ball was midnight to 3 a.m. It was the last video. I couldn’t even stay awake to watch my own video.

Sometime later, Fletcher from the band Pennywise saw that video and saw my name and tracked me down. He said, “Hey, I’m on this label called Epitaph Records, and in this band called Pennywise.” Actually, he tracked my dad down. I saw my dad, and he said, “Hey, this guy Fletcher from Pennywise called. He called, and I had a good talk with this guy.” I went down and met Fletcher, and punk was about to break, and Pennywise was a pretty punk band, if not the punkest band at the time – not by success per se, but maybe by success because they were big. Green Day hadn’t blown up yet, the Offspring hadn’t blown up yet; it was Pennywise that those bands were opening up for. Pennywise made a video, and all of a sudden all these people were saying, “Well, Pennywise made a video, so I guess it’s not un-punk to make a video, because Pennywise did.” So now all of a sudden I was the “it” guy, because people go to the person the other person used. It’s the same with making records. Then everyone started calling me, and I had nothing to do in life because I was young and trying to be a filmmaker and be a new video director. So I was spending time at Epitaph Records and meeting bands and going on tour with bands. As all the different subcultures of punk were exploding, I was sitting right there in the middle. I was one of the only guys actually doing it non-stop. When I got there, I was raised on all things video and all things loving David Fincher and Sam Behr and everything. Those guys were punk rock guys also making videos, and I was filmmaker video geek making punk videos. I just thought these should be big and grand and these should be movies, so maybe that’s what set those videos apart. I was the only guy there for about seven years doing every video I could get my hands on.

Music Consultant:
And that’s segued into a career for you. You’ve made videos with Mraz and Colbie Caillat and everybody.

DD:
I didn’t leave.

Music Consultant:
That’s a big part of it: consistency.

DD:
Yes. You stick around long enough, and you’re there.

Music Consultant:
You’ve now done videos that were probably very shoestring budget, and very extensive on the other end. What advice would you give to artists just starting out? What are some common mistakes you see with artists trying to make their first video? It has to be a very dangerous place to play, because before you know it, you’re spending thousands of dollars and you haven’t even started.

DD:
I would say, never make a video based on a treatment. I would always make a video based on somebody’s work. Have they done it? What have they pulled off? To this day, I’d say that to any musician. I’d say that to U2. I’d say, “Bono, seriously? Some of your videos are horrible.” Artists have this amazing ability to self-deceive themselves, because what they saw on paper may have matched something they got connected to. And then when the final piece gets done, they can’t even see that it’s not what it is. If you spend a lot of money, the self deception seems to be an even more fortified reality. You can’t accept that it went horribly wrong.
I don’t write a lot of treatments. Lately I’ve had to write a lot because there have been more people saying, “Please write something for us,” and I say, “OK, I’ll write.” But all the things I’m famous for I didn’t write for. They were the kinds of projects where someone said – usually Cathy Pellow, who is a phenomenal asset to music videos in general as a commissioner. Cathy would always say, “Just get on the phone with Darren.” So that’s Mraz, Caillat, Shinedown, Buck Cherry. I don’t have that many hits, but those hits were because Cathy Pellow got on the phone.

Music Consultant:
I’m sorry. Where is Cathy Pellow?

DD:
Cathy runs a company called Refuse TV and represents a couple directors, but she also does video commissioning for labels, so she was commissioning for Atlantic for a while. If a band gets an idea, that’s what I wanted to run with. If a band says, “I’m just seeing red for this song,” all of a sudden I’m thinking blood and communion wine and red. And ideas start flowing. If that’s all an artist has, then I can build off those ideas and bring something to them that’s fresh. They might say, “This is all about my grandma.” And then we’ll work with family and age and generations. But this idea of blind treatments with no names on treatments, you have to be kidding me. You would never do anything else in your life that way. You would never hire a doctor who wrote a treatment on how they think you should be cured. And you’ve got cancer, and the person says, “I’m going to cure you through lots of candy and watching movies.”

Music Consultant:
What steps would you recommend groups take to prepare before they even sit down to talk to a director? Does there have to be a specific vision? What do want people to have thought about before getting to your doorstep?

DD:
That’s going to depend really on who the artist is. There are some artists who are good artists and some that are bad. There are some artists that are deep and some that are not deep. My approach for as long as I can remember – and it happened pretty early on – is that I believe a music video at its best should be an extension of the song/an extension of the artist. With that approach, if the artist is knowable and personable and can communicate beyond what he has already communicated, then you have a good base. Sometimes you sit down with somebody and realize they are just in it for the scene. They’re not deep and not going to last, and there’s not much to extract. In that situation I’ll just make the sexiest performance-based video I can make to help these guys live out their fantasy.

Music Consultant:
What about advice for the people that may not be at the point where they can do anything but something on their own? Are there DIY things that you see in videos that you see that you can’t believe someone did that people should avoid?

DD:
I’d have to categorize how I would answer that. I don’t mind when a really bad video gets made for a really bad band. New director, new artist – they’re growing together. Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. I like that. Everyone is so afraid to be bad. The arrogance and the ego that people think they can be good right out the gate is beyond me and blows my mind.

Music Consultant:
Even simple technical things though, as simple as “I see them using this handheld and it’s shaking.” What is something that’s so cliché that no one should ever do it? I can only liken it to being an A&R guy and getting a band photo of four dudes standing in front of a brick wall.

DD:
I think they should avoid thinking they are worth anything. As long as you avoid that, you’re fine.

Music Consultant: How would that thought come through in a video?

DD:
If Band A is really good, and they go looking for someone to make a video for them, and once again the person that gets to make the video for them has nothing to show, or what they do have to show is probably what their video is going to look like. If the band makes that decision, I say stick with it and live with it. If you can’t tell it’s a bad video, it’s like someone wearing a really bad outfit. I don’t know what to do when I see someone wearing a bad outfit. But sometimes a person can wear such a band outfit but be so cool that it doesn’t matter. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter. I don’t think it matters what kind of video Coldplay makes at this point. People love Coldplay. I don’t think Johnny Cash could’ve made a bad video. But mediocre band, mediocre director – you have to take what you can pay for, and take it if someone makes it for free. No such thing as a free lunch, no such thing as a free video. It’s going to be a free video. To the person making the video, I’d say, “Great, you made a horrible video. Now make another one, and another one and another one.” If I’m not on a project I shoot almost every day of my life. I film something every day. I know I’m a filmmaker because I film every day. 9.9 out of 10 people I met that say they are filmmakers are not filmmakers. If I play basketball, I’m shooting free throws every single day of my life. I get that there are people that like to film and make videos and that do make videos, and if I met them and could get into their heads, I could tell if they were filmmakers. Filmmaking is the new accounting or the new web designing.

Music Consultant:
So you find there are very few are professionals out there?

DD:
Very few people are going to keep doing it and care about doing it. It’s just like bands. There are a lot of “bands” out there, but only a couple real bands. I don’t want to get caught up in all this Tony Robbins culture: “Tell me what I have to do. What is the secret? What is the tip? Give me the Oprah ‘You can do anything if you try.’” That’s a lie. That’s the biggest line of bullshit I have ever heard in my entire life to tell kids they can do anything. You can’t do anything. What are you talking about? Have you been to Cirque de Soleil? You can do that? No you can’t. There’s a great line, and my kids and I always quote this. One of our favorite films is The Incredibles. And there’s a line of The Incredibles, and I forget exactly what is said, but he says, “If everybody had superpowers, then nobody would be super.” When you say in terms of abilities, “You can do anything,” what you’re actually saying is, “Nothing is a big deal.” There’s nothing special about the person that actually does that, because you can do anything. Thanks, but you’re wrong. That’s not how the world works, and it completely destroys the unique abilities that people have, whether intrinsic or by hard work. No one naturally does what happens at Cirque de Soleil. They have to work to do that. So when you say, “Anyone can do that,” it’s not true. Now you have to assume all these things. We watch the Olympics and think anyone can do that, but no. You don’t tell people they can do anything. And what we have now is a culture that has been raised on everyone from Denzel Washington to PBS telling kids, “You can do anything.” So they say, “I love this, therefore I can do it.” But they don’t want to work hard. That’s what someone should’ve been telling them: “Work your ass off, and you may be able to pull something off. But if you don’t pull it off, at least you worked your ass off, and now you can go do something else.” Because at the end of the day, the currency and the actual stock that you want to have as a person is a work ethic. If you cultivate a work ethic, you can go do anything. You said it at the beginning of our conversation: “Who do you know that is just doing one thing right now?” But if you think about it, even when everybody did have their cushy jobs somewhere, we were always doing more than what we do. I don’t spend 90% of my time as a director. I spend 90% of my time as a hustler, manager, agent, a camera operator/geek/tech guy. That has nothing to do with directing. Now those that actually had a good work ethic and knew how to do more than one thing, in times like these are doing three or four things, because people with a good work ethic can work three jobs. If people stop wanting music videos, I’ll go do something else. I don’t live off a passion for filmmaking. It’s not my identity. I try to have a good work ethic, and if it doesn’t work out, I’ll look around, and as long as there is somewhere someone is hiring, I’ll go get a job there.

Music Consultant:
I do get the sense and have always gotten the sense from you that you very much enjoy what you do.

DD: I love it. I absolutely love it, but it’s hard and it sucks a lot of the time. It sucks less the older I get, but it has sucked most of the time. It’s a hard career. It’s hard doing six videos in a week. And that’s in my 20s. I would shoot two videos a day and sometimes five videos over Saturday, Sunday, Monday morning so I could get the one-day rental and get it back Monday afternoon. I’d pick up a camera package for under $2,000 on Thursday, and I would always try to get earlier pickup. I’d get it by noon and I could shoot a video Thursday, Friday, and two videos on Saturday into Sunday and get more pickup shots on Monday. If I could get two or three videos at $2,000-$3,000 per video, I just brought in $10,000-$12,000 in a weekend. If I keep my expenses in at under $6,000 I’m going to make $3,000. If I could do that twice or three times per month, I’m making a living and can pay my rent. I just cleared $9,000. I didn’t look at it as nine videos. It was four days of filming. Nothing’s really changed for me. I’m still filming all the time, and they’re not longer projects. I used to pick up my gear on Thursday and be done by Monday. When I go do a Jason Mraz video, I’m just filming for four days with Jason Mraz. I think now the time I used to spend doing four videos I now spend doing one video, so that’s why my videos may stand out more than other videos.

Music Consultant:
If you learned how to squeeze that much out of every hour on a low budget, I can only imagine that guys that did not have to scrounge for that existence would not be able to do that.

DD:
And that’s why the old guard is falling apart. They’re saying, “We’ll give you two locations.” I’m looking at Jason Mraz’s video, and they have helicopter shots, they’re shooting on three islands and have shots underwater. That wasn’t even a big budget video. I don’t compete with anybody. I just keep doing what I do, and I’m still low budget. Everybody knows I’m low budget. I’m the cheapest guy in town. I couldn’t care less. I’m the top of the C level world. But when all of a sudden the industry dips into the B world, the guy at the top of the C world are poking their heads up and hiring me and saying, “Well, he doesn’t do treatments, but we don’t have money, so I guess that’s a good give and take.” As long as I’m filming that’s what I do. That’s my job, and there are times when it’s horrible. Who doesn’t know that? That’s what jobs are. There’s a great line by Chris Rock. He says, “Don’t call it a job. I have a career. Jobs are the thing where there are too many hours in the day, and a career there are not enough hours in the day.”

Take a moment to look at Darren’s Projects and to get more information check out his company Level 4

Online Video Distribution and Fun Video Facts

Posted By Musician Coaching on April 20th, 2010

David Burch is the Director of Marketing for tubemogul a video distribution and video ad platform.  David came out of an e-commerce background before starting with tubemogul several years ago.  I am NOT in any way endorsed or compensated by tubemogul but I am a big fan of their free video distribution and analytics services and wanted to know more about the company as I often get questions about how best to circulate and promote music videos.

Music Consultant:

Tell me a little bit about the company and why it was founded and what you guys are doing

DB:

We were founded originally when YouTube first took off in 2006. Back then they didn’t really have a lot of good analytics and numbers in who was watching what and how often. So we entered this world and said, “Okay, we’ll be the Nielsen of this world.” But because the technology and the Internet is such that instead of tracking panels based in 10,000 households, we can track every single stream that’s out there. We tried to make it a little more sophisticated. Then, because YouTube was taking off and the new media industry was taking off and people were tracking the way videos were playing across all these different sites, they requested we add a product where they could upload to all the different sites simultaneously as well, so we did that. That product still exists today, and we expanded and tried to build on it. It’s called “One Load Now” for obvious reasons. One upload to the top video sites that we automatically start tracking the analytics on all the sites. We have been expanding a lot of our analytics relationships, and we’re tracking billions of monthly streams across the top video platforms and sites, across thousands of different publishers.

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Music Consultant:

I know this is going to sound like a funny question, but do you have success stories you can point to that your data actually caused somebody who was unaware of some heat on their product or content caught fire and used your product to expand their views and push their product to places it hadn’t been?

DB:

If you’re thinking about musicians, I know there are thousands of small musicians using our free product. I don’t know a prominent one I can name. There are a lot of smaller bloggers that have really taken off. Like Gary Vaynerchuk is a good example. A guy named Brian Brushwood was one of our first users and actually got signed professionally with a network after he started to distribute and gain awareness. There are a lot of examples.  In terms of indirect benefits, by being in multiple places at once, you’re increasing your video SEO value. I’m not necessarily a pundit in the space, but there are people that are paying clients that use us for this specific purpose – to increase their organic search rating – and they come up more prominently and more often in searches.

Music Consultant:

Are there different advantages to different video sites in particular, or is it just a matter of covering all the bases in your experience.

DB:

You’re going to get most of your views on YouTube. Period. But there is this long tail of other sites that have very dedicated fans. You might, if someone likes your content, get featured on their homepage, or you might get featured somewhere else more prominently. I think it’s really a matter of getting out there and finding your audience and trying to learn when you get bigger unexpectedly, trying to learn why that happened.

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Music Consultant:

Tell me more about the analytics piece. What kind of data are you able to track with both your regular and your pro product?

DB:

The free product actually comes with most of the analytics built in. We track views, which is an obvious metric, but also viewed minutes. A view is tracked as soon as someone hits “play” on the video. We track how long someone actually watched before they clicked away. We also track things like completion rates – how many people watched a video until it finished, comments, ratings, also viewer attention span on an individual video level and a publisher/campaign level across all their videos, audience geography – which states were people viewing video in, etc.

Music Consultant:

You track by IP addresses basically?

DB:

Yeah. We also track whether a video was embedded. That one is worth emphasizing, because if you’re asking which metrics really matter – embedding does. Other than just going to Google and running a search or clicking around YouTube, the second most common way videos are discovered online is through embeds. Going in and figuring out who is embedding your video and driving views can be really valuable.  It is important to take care of the people that are driving a lot of your views – especially in music. That’s why when EMI blocked embeds, they’re going to see their viewership crater a little bit. Embeds are how new music videos and new videos in general tend to be discovered. You increase your chances of going viral.

Music Consultant:

Oddly enough, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back with EMI’s flagship online video artist OK Go. They left the label as a result of that decision I believe.

DB:

Yeah. I remember being asked what kind of effect it would have, and we were trying to quantify it.  People at YouTube say this, and we’ve seen it in the monthly stats we track – how many embeds per view a video gets really early in its life cycle has good predictive value for how viral a video will be. There are a bunch of other stats we track that are important as well.

Music Consultant:

That’s good to know that early embeds are such a predictor of future success.

DB:

I think they are one of the main engines of early discovery – how people find videos. When you think about it, that’s true with my experience. I watch a lot of the videos I watch on a daily basis on blogs or on other publication sites.

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Music Consultant:

Which other recommended practices would you suggest for those trying to get their videos out there? There’s embedding, there’s making sure you’re on all the different networks. What else?

DB:

I think good PR outreach is always good. That’s a good tip in general and not just specific to our product. Just distribution and paying attention to where you’re getting views is important as well.  Coupled with aggressive use of social media. A viewer that watches a video that found they through Twitter or Facebook tends to watch it longer than a viewer coming from anywhere else online.  I forget which social media success story said “Especially if you’re small and scrappy and looking to make it. You really want to leverage the Twitter, Facebook and aggressively interact with your audience.” We have found it to be true.

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All images belong to Tubemogul and are re-posted from their research pages.  If you have video or videos I highly suggest you explore their services.