Monday, November 19, 2012

All the Music You Need for an Electronic Music Radio on the Internet

There are a lot of things that you can do over the internet. Among the recent trends about things people do on the internet is listening to dance music radio. A lot of people whether they may be at their office, at home, or travelling listen to electronic music radio. If you try to browse the internet there are a lot of house music internet radio stations available offering you the latest hits as wells as good old love songs from the 70's or 80's.

If you are into Breakbeat music, there are also Breakbeat internet radio stations. You might be wondering why there are people who are listening to electronic music radio when there are land based radio stations. Well, there are advantages to this method of listening to music and these are:

More choice and variety

You have access to all kinds and genres of music available. You get to choose what kind of music you will listen to and change as often as you like. Enjoy listening to your choice of songs and music as much as you want.

Less Advertisements

Advertisements are one of the sources of income for a radio station. Land based radio station have utilities expenses to pay for. But some electronic music radio stations are supported by donations and subscriptions. Fewer advertisements mean more time listening to music you loved listening to.


As long as there is an internet connection you can listen to any dance music radio station or Breakbeat internet radio station. You may be out of town now, but you can still listen to the house music internet radio station you used to listen to. There is no geographical boundary when it comes to listening songs online

System requirements

You do not have to bring with you your PC or laptop just to connect to the internet and listen to music. Any device which can connect to the internet such as phones, tablets, or even PDAs can be used to listen to online music anywhere you are. You also do not have to worry about compatibility of operating systems.

Higher sound quality

Internet radio stations are not subject to interferences such as environmental factors. As long as you have good internet connection, you will be able to enjoy quality and original soundtracks anywhere you may be.

When you think about it, modern technology definitely makes our lives easier. It is good to know that we live comfortable lives and have many choices to make our lives better. Music is a huge part of the human society. It has been in existence for a long period of time. No matter how busy your day is if you listen to good music, it can calm your mind and lessen the stress you feel.

Quality, Not Quantity: The Recording Industry, Piracy, and John Mellencamp

When I first started learning guitar, I was interested in hearing sounds from the past that had been chronicled in periodicals like Rolling Stone, where elongated reviews of album releases romanticized various musical trends. Most 'vintage' albums had been issued on both vinyl and cassette formats, and, due to low visibility of many of the artists existing outside of the 'first tier' of entertainers, some recordings were tough to find. Kids would trade cassettes back and forth, forming a 'shared experience' along the way. Because our parents had been products of the 'rock and roll' generation of the 1950s and 1960s, general knowledge of those sounds was there. For instance, a view into my eighth grade yearbook reveals the 1962 chart hit 'Tell Him' by the Exciters as the top track of the year, as selected by twelve and thirteen year olds twenty-five years after the tune's original release. Of course, the spins it actually received in our classroom paled in comparison to the popular albums of the day, 'Permanent Vacation' by Aerosmith, 'Look What the Cat Dragged In' by Poison, and Bon Jovi's 'Slippery When Wet' - all issued (and sold) in massive quantities.

For those wiling to dig deeper, though, weekends offered a chance to scour old record stores for music rarely (if ever) heard on FM radio. A walk down these aisles would reveal such artists as Chain, Edgar Broughton, Love, MC5, Moby Grape, Orpheus, Patto, Spooky Tooth, and many more. I'd pick up these albums, record them onto cassette tapes, and then bring them to school - where the students summarily dismissed them in favor of Cinderella, Motley Crue, and Winger. However, I was able to discover the albums and artists that the '80s icons learned from, which is, unfortunately, an experience many musicians cannot claim to have enjoyed at the time because of a lack of exposure to such music. Today, the internet makes it possible to discover music that may have gone unnoticed upon initial release from the comfort of your own home.

Prior to the commercial advent of the compact disc, the sound quality on both cassettes and vinyl records was as variable as that of radio broadcasts, where listeners could record nearly all popular rock albums ever released when aired on local stations' 'Seventh Day' programs. Full albums (and, in some cases, full artist catalogs) were heard, from start to finish. Initially, vinyl skips stamped the broadcasts; later, as CD audio became the standard, the sky was the limit for the acquisition of free commercial album releases and live performances.

One artist whose music proliferated such FM broadcasts was John Mellencamp, whose recent Huffington Post article decried such practices as applied by the current digital age ('Good News! Ten Commandments Reduced Now to Only Nine,' October 25, 2012.) However, as for the music industry's 'mega-sellers,' i.e. artists who have achieved household name recognition such as Don Henley, Madonna, and Mellencamp, none of this has influenced their standing as important industry power players to any degree. In fact, the Eagles' 'Greatest Hits' album (on which Henley appears) is, generally, certified above Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' as the best-selling album of all time - meaning that, even though interested fans could have easily recorded all tracks from any album ever recorded by the band at any given point on FM radio for no cost, the same people later bought the exact same tracks and paid astronomical fees to watch the group perform the cuts, live. Given this, I wonder if Mr. Mellencamp, whose contributions to rock cannot be understated, is in actual need of the money he claims he is owed through the process of illegal downloading when, truthfully, the message of his music has, likely, spread far beyond the limitations that would have been imposed without word-of-mouth efforts by fans and critics. Consider the situation: if he had been unable to turn a profit after several major label marketing campaigns, why would labels continue to promote him? Additionally, if 'Our Country' was part of an automobile's ad campaign, didn't the artist - who, in this case, is also the songwriter - profit threefold: from artist royalties, songwriting royalties, and the large fee levied upon song licensing? Wouldn't the heft of such funds offset the loss of 99 cents per track (the average online mp3 price), even given 5,000 or more illegal downloads?

Regarding live bootlegs, as technology progressed, a larger market for such items was created. Two decades ago, the jam band concert scene that flourished with college-aged patrons had blossomed, and one of its hallmarks was the preservation of nearly all performances by touring artists like the Grateful Dead and Phish, who both benefitted extraordinarily from such an approach. Subsequently, it was utilized by more straight-ahead rock artists such as Pearl Jam, who, by then, could effectively beat the bootleggers at their own game by employing the tactic as a marketing vehicle. Here, the model of artists being forced to create revenue through live performance amidst the expectation of financial loss on studio recordings was turned upside down, as artists could then increase potential earnings by building a reputation, performing, and then denoting each concert as a separate, sonically-enhanced document that would survive far beyond the individual gig's encore. Regardless of short-term revenue, long-term possibilities, given this approach, are infinite, as, today, concert tickets now average higher prices than a full tank of gasoline.

Gone is the era of multicultural radio, where all genres sit together on playlists. Listeners are forced to search long and hard for music that may satisfy their tastes. I - like many others - still spend hours, online, in search of music that, while not as commercially successful as recordings by Green Day, Lenny Kravitz, or Jay-Z, is closer to the style of music I personally enjoy. Through such research, I became acquainted with recordings by artists including the Blackbyrds, El Chicano, Malo, Paul Pena, Pieces of Peace, Soulful Dynamics, Mike Skinner and the Streets, and '90s NYC-based indie band The Box, who closed out their apparently short-lived career hitless but created some interesting music just as improvisational as either Ekoostik Hookah, Groove Collective, or Rusted Root - if you are even aware of those three bands.

Given the popularity of audio downloads and file sharing nowadays, I am certain that I am not alone in my desire to hear music that may not be what is routinely presented on 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,' 'The Voice,' or 'Saturday Night Live.' Therein lies the actual value of downloads, as music that, otherwise, would go unheard is rife for rediscovery by either fans who will spread the word, or musicians who may, in time, change the face of the industry through their consumption of sounds far from today's established 'mainstream.' Through such exposure, the inspiration to create greater artistic works may arise. In this day and age of blatantly derivative, over-processed, auto-tuned music, to quote Mr. Mellencamp, such a standard of excellence is something needed now, more than ever.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

3 Steps No Indie Artists Can Ignore - Get Your Music Out There

So you have a new band or existing band and your ready to start spreading the love. Easier said than done right? Well, with a few strategic methods, you can start expanding your fan base. It's not necessarily going to be easy, but nothing worth while really is.

Follow these three easy steps and I bet you'll be amazed at the new fans that start trickling in.

1. Social Presence. One of the 1st things you will want to do is develop your Social Media Sites. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are great places to start. Yes, I said LinkedIn. LinkedIn offers a host of great groups you can join and meet other artists in similar situations to you. LinkedIn also groups for helping you figure out places to submit your music for reviews, licensing, and radio airplay. Everyone is familiar and comfortable with Facebook and Twitter, but LinkedIn is one, that should definitely be in your overall Social Strategy as an Indie musician.

Also part of your Social strategy should be something like Bufferapp. This cool tool allows you to schedule your tweets and set up several in advance, freeing up more time for you to do what you really want to do, which is play and create music.

2. Quite possibly even more important than the Social strategy is to have a way for fans and potential new listeners, is a place to stream your music. Make sure you have Soundcloud, Youtube, and an app like Bandpage or Bandprofile on your FB. These streaming sources make sure people can listen to your music online, and most importantly most of them have means for people to share if they hear something they like!!

3. The next and final step will discuss for now is make sure they can get your music by an easy download. There are so many places online that give you this opportunity for free! The above mentioned FB apps, Bandcamp, even Soundcloud allows you to offer the listener to download. Routenote, CD baby, tunecore, etc all provide you means to distribute your music. Most even provide a share for download option. Perfect for growing your fan base!

The key to all three of these steps is to link them all together. If someone finds you on FB, then they can easily link straight to your Twitter, YouTube, and Website, etc.

If you are an indie or new musician starting out, forget the money for now, and worry about fans. Build it and they will come, could never be more true for new musicians. Don't make it too difficult for fans to discover your music. If you build a fan base now, the fans will buy later. Give them an experience and make your music accessible. Fans will become your biggest advocates and your own little street team!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Social Media - The Art Of The Network

It's no secret that there are oodles of fantastic websites, blogs and tools out there for musicians. But sometimes, the thought of scouring the worldwide web in search of them seems like too daunting of a task. And let's face it, most musicians also have a day job. It's not like you can just sit in front of the computer and spend your days thinking about how you plan to infiltrate the masses. (Or maybe you can?) So much choice, so little time... In light of this, we've put together a list of some of the best sites and tools we've come across. Please note that this list is in no way exhaustive or definitive. We couldn't include every notable site or blog in one article. So we will continue to add to it for future issues. If you feel there is something we should know about, tell us.

Stage It

Your online concert venue. This is where you can broadcast live from your laptop and create a unique and interactive experience with your audience. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to tour from one location? You can play a different show every night to a different audience and never have to leave your band room. You are in complete control of the kind of experience you want to create for your fans.

All you have to do is:

1. Create your show - set the date, time, and ticket price of your show and then get the word out.

2. Let fans buy tickets - your fans buy tickets using Notes (10 Notes = $1). Notes are available when buying a ticket to the show.

3. Perform! - your fans can interact with you via chat and show their support through a virtual Tip Jar.

Give your fans a truly front row experience. is a direct way to get your music to the people who want it by trading recommendations with other artists. For example, you send out a promotion request to the bands of your choice by writing a message or posting a link. If the requested bands accept, your feed will appear on their pages and in their newsfeeds for all of their fans. Promotions on go to fans directly from the bands they love, so you can be sure the fans will listen. Bands can send you a promotion as well which you can then earn band bucks for accepting them. You can promote up to 3 acts a day, so get in touch with all your favourite acts. Band bucks go right into your account when the message is posted to Facebook, MySpace or Twitter. You can even get band bucks for inviting bands to join So consider this, the next time you have a show or release a new album, it can potentially reach hundreds of thousands of people instantly. And best of all, it's free.

Get Recommended

Join over 100k musicians, bloggers, and content creators on Headliner and get recommended to their fans directly on Facebook and Twitter.

Reach New Fans

Headliner connects you to other members so you can recommend each other. Push your message beyond your own circle and reach a wider, untapped audience that is constantly expanding.

Help Each Other Out

You don't need a lot of money to reach a lot of fans. Headliner uses a virtual currency called Band BucksTM. The more you promote each other, the more currency you earn to promote yourself.

Reach out and recommend someone today.

Jango Airplay

Custom radio that plays what you want and helps you discover new music you're likely to like.

Jango is a social music service that lets you create and share custom radio stations. It's unique in that it gives emerging artists guaranteed airplay on Jango's stations as 'similar artists' alongside the popular artists of their choice. This program gives indie artists the unique opportunity to be proactively exposed to millions of people who like their kind of music. Packages start at as little as $10 USD for 250 plays.

All you have to do is:

1. Upload your music and target the right listeners,

2. Get played on Jango and collect fans,

3. Get reports and data on your new fan base.

Guaranteed Airplay. Millions of Listeners.


This is 21st century A&R. The MusicXray platform enables the industry to open the doors of opportunity to musicians and songwriters everywhere. The site helps musicians and songwriters get deals and to get feedback from professionals who want to help them succeed. MusicXray provides vast opportunities for professional musicians and songwriters, including:

· Artist Development

· Career coaching

· Celebrity artists

· Collaborations

· Compilations

· Distribution deals

· Exposure opportunities

· Festivals & Gigs

· Label roster consideration

· Magazine/Print Reviews

· Management Deals

· Production deals

· Publishing deals

· Radio Playlisting

· Song Placements

· Sync Licensing

... and more

The MusicXray team is committed to giving artists and songwriters a quality experience and is quick to action if an industry provider begins welching on their part of the deal. All in all, this is a fantastic tool for musicians and songwriters looking for opportunities in the industry, all from the comfort of your own home. And best of all, the industry professionals have to respond to you with feedback.

Join the 21st century.


This is basically a magic button that you can add to your web browser. StumbleUpon helps you discover and share great websites. As you click the button, you'll discover high-quality pages matched to your personal preferences. These pages have been explicitly recommended by your friends or one of over 15 million websurfers with interests similar to you. By rating the sites you like, you automatically share them with like-minded people. While StumbleUpon is not a music-centric tool, it's actually a great music discovery tool and can possibly help you get discovered. You can submit any content. Whatever you submit, there is always the potential that thousands or even millions of people could stumble across your content.

The possibilities are endless.

GoGirlsMusic is the oldest and largest online community of indie women musicians. This is a unique organization that focuses on advancing the careers of independent female artists. The organization works tirelessly to help artists through educating, networking, and organizing events like the GoGirlsMusicFest, Invasion of the GoGirls during SXSW, GoGirls @ Folk Alliance and more. Artists who become involved get the opportunity to perform, have their work reviewed, and get involved with a hardworking group of women who "get things done" on the music scene.

Founded by social networking guru, Madalyn Sklar, in 1996, the vision was for an organization that brought together independent women musicians from around the world. 15 years later, she's turned that dream into a reality. Madalyn has been named one of the 10 most Powerful Women in Music by Curve magazine and one of the 15 People You Should Know In the Biz by She serves on the NARIP (National Association of Record Industry Professionals) Houston Board and was voted #2 in NARIP's Best in the Biz for Best New Media/Social Media Executive.

So if you are an indie woman, or a band that has a member with a uterus, get connected with this dynamic group asap or miss out on being a part of one of the most vital online music communities.


RockDex helps you track buzz, find fans and spot trends. The site presents a high-level view of your artists' online buzz and a comprehensive picture of growth and scale. Dig into actual conversations and understand what drives exposure and fans' behavior instead of making blind assumptions from numbers without context. This is a revolutionary application that tracks thousands of websites, collecting data for musical artists from blog posts, fan connections, pageviews, tweets, song plays and many more.Spot viral trends and track progress over time with constantly updated charts, graphs and maps. Gauge your marketing strategy's effectiveness by finding out who your fans are, where they are, and what they're saying. Pricing starts at $23 USD per month.

Capitalize on a valuable and too-often-overlooked asset: Your Data.


The new way to listen to music. Millions of tracks, any time you like. Just search for it in Spotify, then play it. Just help yourself to whatever you want, whenever you want it. Spotify is founded on the pretense that music is a social experience. In fact, they make it as easy as possible to discover and share music with your friends. Thanks to Spotify and Facebook, you can see and hear what your friends are listening to - just hit play on any music post. You can also send music straight to your friends or post tracks on social networks. All you have to do is create an account then download and install Spotify on either Windows or Mac. Then search and play, and millions of songs are now yours. But be warned, Spotify is not yet available in all countries.

If Spotify is available in your little pocket of the world, there is no excuse to not be on it.

This is where Serious Musicians Surf since 1996. Serving music creators and the industry that supports them, posts the latest news on how to make and market your music, what tools make you shine, and who has a buzz going on. Check in for your daily music industry fix.

Notable Blogs:


Daily news and commentary on the music industry and the technology and social media that drives it.

Music Think Tank

Where the music industry thinks out loud - managed by

The DIY Musician Blog

The CD Baby DIY Musician Blog and Podcast give indie artists direct access to the advice of industry experts and top sellers. Updated weekly, and covering topics as diverse as marketing, songwriting, social networking, recording, copyright, viral videos, and booking, you'll want to check back often for another dose of do-it-yourself inspiration.

Echoes: Insight for Independent Artists

Chock full of useful tips and advice on everything musician related.

I guess I'm floating blog

Fantastic blog full of music from people who love music.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Kimball Gallagher - Indie Entrepreneur

A Juilliard-trained classical pianist, Kimball Gallagher is on a quest to revive the lost era of salon concerts. He believes in the intimacy of the performance and the immediate impact of the experience. He also believes in the creation of a lasting relationship between the performer and the listener. Kimball's passion for classical music and the importance of musical education has led him to embark on an unusual 88-concert international tour. Each stop represents one of the 88 piano keys. It's an adventure that has taken him from the US to Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. He is planning to wrap the tour with a celebration concert at Carnegie Hall in 2014. From the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul to the home of Uma Thurman in New York, Kimball is changing the way we view performer-audience connections with his own brand of independent entrepreneurial thinking.

RL: Where did the idea for the 88-Key Concert Tour come from? How did you turn that idea into a reality?

KG: When I was in my undergraduate at Rice University, a professor introduced me to Jacob Deegan, who had decided to have a concert series in his home. He told me, "Home concerts seem to be viewed as something someone does to get ready for the real concert [at the public venue], but I feel home concerts are the real concert. " After that, I started viewing homes very differently. Every time I went to a different home, I found myself evaluating it for its concert readiness and often asking homeowners to become concert hosts. A few years after that, when I graduated from Juilliard and needed a piano, I organized, with lots of support and ideas from friends and patrons, a fundraiser to buy my own piano. The cost of the piano was divided by 88 and donations were given on a key-by-key basis. In the end 54 people gave $25,000. A few years after this, I was looking for a way to create more momentum with the home concerts I was doing and decided to package them as an 88 concert tour to use the momentum of the piano fundraiser. The tour became a reality one step at a time. First, by simply making proposals and inquiries with people whose homes and personalities seemed to suit the idea. Most of the homes I performed at, at the beginning of the tour, were homes where concerts had not previously taken place. By the 17th concert of the tour, I had been invited to Afghanistan to be in residence at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music and played a concert there. This was a salon style concert, so I decided to count it. Then there was a decision to take the tour international. Since then, I've been to over 16 countries. Each concert also includes a personalized composition written specifically for the concert. Often the pieces of music start with the host's or hosts' names spelled out in musical notes, and those notes are used to create a piece of music. The end of the tour will include major venues on each continent with the final concert at Carnegie Hall in the Spring of 2014.

RL: In today's musical climate, what do you feel are the benefits to reviving the salon culture?

KG: The intimacy and immediacy of the space provide the audience with a special, visceral experience of the music and a more personal connection to the performer. Any space can be a concert venue, opening up the possibility for any homeowner to be a concert presenter for their friends. In general, I hear from audiences that the quality of their experience is richer at a private concert than a large public one. I think one of the benefits is that it represents a concrete way to build new audiences one person at a time.

RL: From a performance perspective, how is your experience different in a concert setting compared to a rock show setting?

KG: The main thing is that the audience is seated and, generally speaking, quiet. I don't want my audiences to feel suffocated or forcibly subdued into being quiet but many of the special communicative moments of a concert are quiet and a group silence, when achieved with everyone as a willing participant, is a space where some special moments can be happen.

RL: What is your most memorable show to date?

KG: Perhaps playing Schubert's final piano sonata for an audience at the German Embassy in Kabul Afghanistan. The contrast of a metaphysical, soulful piece of music in the midst of a war-zone was striking. The atmosphere at the Embassy was warm and inviting and, in every way, seemed to contrast media portrayals of the war.

RL: Do you think that being a musician and being an entrepreneur are interchangeable these days? What do you feel are the benefits and drawbacks of that?

KG: I can't give, of course, a first-hand account of being a musician in any other era except for right now. But it does seem, more and more, that musicians have to create their own following and generate many of their own opportunities. Personally, I book my own international tours, set up my own partnerships, find my own students, and do mostly my own publicity. The benefits are that you can shape and mold your own career completely according to your own vision. The drawbacks are that it is an enormous amount of effort and it is an endless challenge to balance creative musical work with promotion, planning, administrative work, etc.

RL: You're active in New York, yet you've experienced a lot of different parts of the world. Can you give us your perspective on NYC as a musical city? What do you feel are its best bits? What do you feel it needs to work on?

KG: New York always strikes me as incredible in its musical diversity and consistent high quality. New Yorkers themselves easily become jaded but the fact is, there are countless venues for so many genres of music that showcase a revolving door of remarkable talent. I wouldn't want to presume to criticize it really. . . it's a competitive place with a huge number of very gifted people. I find it difficult, actually, to get creative work done in such a kinetic and energetically charged environment.

RL: What do you think are the main things musicians need to focus on today if they want to achieve a certain level of success living through their art? What has been the greatest tool (apart from playing live) that you've been able to use to build your audience?

KG: To me, the most important thing has been creating creative partnerships and creating your own pool of clients, as well as an audience. In my case, a "client" would be a house concert host who would like to have a concert personalized for a special occasion. To give some examples: In Tunisia, the interim finance minister after the revolution was a composer as well as a banker. He organized a concert for the interim Tunisian government where I performed many of his piano works, along with a featured Tunisian violinist and a featured Tunisian singer. In a private home in New Hampshire, I composed a personalized short piano piece for the hosts based on their names (spelling out their names in musical notes using a special system) and also chose some works that were composed on the date that their historic home was built. In Egypt next year, I'm commissioning a work by a NY-based Egyptian-American composer for a string orchestra in Egypt, with myself, and an Egyptian singer using a special Egyptian text. The funding for this will come from playing in private homes in Washington DC and Cairo for families who will like to entertain their guests at home and support causes that promote cross-cultural interaction. This is definitely a way to diversify an audience and also to bring enhanced value to an audience at home. . . that is, by sharing these experiences with them.

RL: How have the shifts in the industry, (the disintegration of most major labels, the rise of social media, music being exchanged freely, etc. . . ) affected you as a musician?

KG: I think I'm a personality that chooses to be a bit on the outside of things. I decided to focus on salon style concerts in private homes because I enjoy those sorts of concerts and I believe I would be doing them regardless of the state of the music industry. Same with the fundraising. As it is, it has inadvertently led to speaking engagements at music conservatories around the US and the World, speaking about entrepreneurship for musicians. So I think that's the biggest way.

RL: Do you believe that music should be free? If yes, in what context? If no, why not?

KG: I encourage artists to donate music and performances and to do so in a way where the value is retained. If I play for free, I want the people at the concert to know I donated a performance, and if it's for a fundraiser, I want the organizers to know that the performance is normally valued at such and such. The same way any other donated service would be valued. Also, I encourage artists to follow-up on gifts of CDs and mp3s. Ask for reviews. Honestly, I haven't done this nearly as much as I feel I should. . . but then, essentially, you can trade a CD for an online review. This gentlemen's agreement can create online legitimacy and that can be quite valuable. So, in general, I think we should be asking, "If we are going to strategically give a CD away or donate a performance, how are we going to remain engaged with the recipient?"Artists definitely need to remember their own value regardless of a dollar amount placed on a performance or a recording. In many cases, I think it's important for artists to educate people on what it takes to be a musician. I didn't just wake up one day and start playing the piano. It really took 25 years of constant practicing and sacrifices of all kinds to make it happen.

RL: Where do you see the future of music heading?

KG: I can see a lot more entrepreneurship. Also, I can see music showing up in what are now considered to be unlikely contexts, unlikely venues, with unlikely business partnerships. Musicians engaging with their audiences more deeply.

RL: How do you define success?

KG: Being able to do what you would like to do when you would like to do it.

RL: Do you have any advice for musicians out there about to embark on a life in music?

KG: Put as much creativity into creating the relationships that will support your career as you do into creating your music.

At the time of this interview, Kimball was in Tunisia.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Derek Sivers - The Man Who Led The CDBABY Revolution

Derek Sivers would spend most of his formative years and his early adult life as a professional musician (and circus clown) before stumbling on an idea that would launch a revolution in the music industry. In 1998, Derek's search for a solution to getting his self-produced CDs properly distributed without a record label would lead to the creation of CDBaby. This little 'accident' would go on to become the largest seller of independent music on the internet, with over $100 million in sales for over 150,000 musicians.

But his contributions to the world didn't stop there. In 2008, Derek sold CDBaby to Disc Makers for $22 million and set up a charitable trust for music education that accepted all the proceeds of the sale on his behalf. In 2011, his book "Anything You Want" was published by Seth Godin's The Domino Project and rose to #1 on all of Amazon's lists. His unique perspective and highly sought after advice has made him a frequent speaker at the inspirational TED Conference. After knowing Derek for a few years, I was extremely lucky to access the thoughts of the man Esquire magazine described as 'one of the last music-business folk heroes.'

RL: What does the term 'independent' mean to you?

DS: Free to do what you want. Run your business how you want, make the music you want. Having no higher authority than yourself, when it comes to your work.

This was the big eye-opening experience for me, when I was 20 years old and worked at Warner Music in New York City. I realized that all of these famous rock stars get to act cool and rebellious, but really they've signed their rights away to a record label that has the ultimate control over what they're allowed to do. I spoke with many musicians who wanted to record or promote a certain song for their album, but their label wouldn't let them. To me, that horrible lack of freedom is not worth any amount of money.

That's when I changed my goal from "getting signed" to "being independently successful". And I did it! Even in business/entrepreneurship, a lot of entrepreneurs are out there trying to "get signed" by an investment firm. I don't want that, either. I really want to be the sole person in charge of my destiny.

RL: How have you changed over the years - in terms of creativity? How about personally?

DS: Music is not my creative outlet anymore. Now, programming and writing are my tools, and the Internet is my media.

Personally, about 3 years ago I decided to accept the responsibility of being a public figure. Before that, I was really shying away from it. I seriously considered changing my name, and moving somewhere where nobody knew me - to just live a nice anonymous life. But then I realized I could manage what I've been given and keep it at a level I liked, instead of avoiding it completely. That's when I started blogging, speaking at TED, and being more public. I'm glad I did. It's got a lot of upsides and very few downsides.

RL: What slivers of the world have impacted you the most? Musical or otherwise?

DS: Not any one sliver, but realizing that there are so many out there! Reign, I know you've had a very multi-cultural life, but I really just grew up in America. I was born in California, and spent almost all of my first 40 years of life in America. I was interested in other places and cultures, but just as a quick visit, never really immersive. I always felt that my California culture was the best - all others inferior.

But now I'm fully the opposite. I've banished myself from living in the U.S. again. (I can visit, yes, but not live there.) It's a big world, and I really want to really understand it from many different points of view.

That kind of thinking has permeated everything for me, now. I can't help but look at everything from different points of view, knowing that no one way is right or wrong.

RL: Were you or have you been surprised by the lasting impact CD Baby has had on the music industry?

DS: Yeah. You never see it while in it. While I was there, it was just dealing with daily problems, just focusing on the week at hand. But you do that for 10 years, and I guess it adds up to something special.

RL: What made you walk away from CD Baby? You created the ultimate company with a personalized touch. Did you have any concerns about handing it over to as big an organization as Disc Makers?

DS: I challenge myself to stay out of my comfort zone. It was tempting to stay with CD Baby forever, but I realized the bigger challenge for myself was not to stick with it, but to give it up - freeing myself to go on to something completely new.

I knew Disc Makers would be a good company to run it, because I'd been working with them for 5 years and saw how they had made thousands of my musician clients happy. They were really focused on customer service, and that personal touch.

True, they're not as quirky as me, but oh well...

RL: How did you come to the decision to transfer the ownership of CD Baby to a charitable trust for music education?

DS: I didn't want the $22 million. That feels like too much money for any one person to have. $1 million? Sure! But not much more. When I mentioned this to my lawyer, he told me about the charitable trust, and how it could pay me out a bit each year for life. It seemed perfect for what I wanted.

Plus, it felt really good to know that this money came from musicians and will go back to musicians.

RL: Where do you see the future of music heading?

DS: I never think like that. I don't try to predict.

Nobody knows the future.

That's a hard but crucial lesson to learn.

If even ultimate government insiders don't know the future, then neither does your stockbroker, music industry expert, nor you.

We have a human need for certainty that desperately yearns to believe that someone can turn our future from unknown to known.

Even if we logically understand that it's impossible, we're emotionally sucked back in and fooled again when someone important tells us with such conviction what the future will hold.

But nobody knows the future.

Some people predict so many things, so when the random future lands on their number they can say, "See! I told you!" But how many times did they say so, and it didn't come true? (Like the joke, "He correctly predicted 12 of the last 3 recessions.")

Our pleasure-seeking brains remember the times in our past when we were right, and forget when we were wrong. So it's easy to think we're smarter than we are.

Every time I speak on a panel, the moderator has to ask, "What's the future of the music business?"

My first thought is always, "Nobody knows. Anyone who pretends to know is not to be trusted." (Even the ultimate insiders, the heads of every major record label, got it wrong.)

But then my thoughts turn to whoever is asking the question.

Why should it matter what anyone says?

Realistically, what would you change about what you're doing, day-to-day?

And so it comes back to fundamentals.

Just like we know there will be gravity, and water will still be wet, there are laws that don't depend on predicting the future.

You know that people love a memorable melody. You can't know what instrumentation or production-values will be in vogue.

You know that people prefer people who make an emotional connection with them. You can't know what technology will carry that communication.

You know that writing lots of songs increases your chances of writing a hit. You can't know which song will be a hit.

So the best thing to do instead of predicting the future is to focus on the fundamentals that never fluctuate.

If you're a songwriter, write at least a song a week, always aiming for a memorable melody and words that make an emotional connection.

If you're a performer, make weekly improvements on your ability to captivate an audience, and make a goal of really connecting with 10 new people every week.

The details are unique to you, and will change constantly. But the real point will never change.

RL: Do you think that being a musician and being an entrepreneur are interchangeable these days? What do you feel are the benefits and drawbacks of that?

DS: I held an online poll where I asked everyone, "What's the opposite of music?"

All kinds of wonderful answers: noise, silence, Celine Dion.

But the best answer by far was this: business.

It's a totally different mindset, focusing on music - the craft, practicing, performing, affecting people's emotions.

That said, of course the business of promoting your music is like being an entrepreneur, absolutely. But let's not confuse that with what it really means to be a musician.

RL: Is music about business or passion?

DS: Music is about nothing but music. Music itself is just music. Whatever meaning you're projecting onto it is your choice, but it's not inherent.

If music, to you, means business, you're very likely going to be disappointed. Your rewards will have to come from outside.

If music, to you, is pure passion, you're very likely going to be happy. Your rewards are internal, in the music itself, no matter what the world thinks.

RL: I know you were looking for a place to settle down for a long time. What made you decide on Singapore?

DS: Great central location. Truly multi-cultural. A little Chinese, a little Malay, a little Indian, a little British - all mixed together.

There are other multi-cultural cities like New York, London, Paris, Amsterdam, but they're always filtered through a country - they are inside America, England, France, etc.

Singapore is not a city in a country - it's a city in the world.

Plus, it's incredibly well-run, constantly improving not declining, and a place I felt I could confidently invest my time and money long-term.

RL: What is your impression (if any) of music outside of the US and it's ability to garner attention on a world stage?

DS: Sorry, I'm completely biased on this, so I have no idea. I only know what I like. I have no idea what the marketplace likes. Two of my all-time favorite artists are Fela Kuti (Nigeria) and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (Pakistan). Attention on a world stage? Who knows?

I do know it's a lot more interesting when people flaunt their unique offerings, instead of trying to copy someone else's. So it's really disappointing to hear a band from Cambodia or Kenya sounding exactly like regular American Top40 pop.

RL: There are a lot of opportunities for unsigned artists in today's new version of the music business. But what are some of the mistakes you see a lot of indie artists making?

DS: Well... I wrote a free PDF ebook about exactly that, so instead of trying to rehash it all here, please go to and download it free.

RL: How do you define success?

DS: Ha! Probably the same as your "independent" question! Doing what you want. Setting out to achieve something and doing it. Freedom.

RL: What is next for you as an avid student of life?

DS: Building and launching a few new business ideas. Learning new programming languages. Exploring, then living, in different parts of the world.

Derek Sivers continues to be an avid student of life. Check his blog regularly for interesting insights on life, love, business and everything in between - they are usually entertaining and always thought-provoking. His book, "Anything You Want" is a must-read for anyone seeking an alternate viewpoint to entrepreneurship in the modern world.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Deli Radio - The New Face of Radio

A new movement in radio is happening and this indie innovation is at the forefront of it. Their idea is based on this simple premise - wherever in the world you happen to live, within 250 km of you, there are 5 bands you would love... IF only you knew about them. Deli Radio aims to solve this problem with their brand of contextualized internet radio. In a nutshell, listeners create their own streaming radio station based on genre, geography and time. Are you looking for alt-country bands playing around NYC over the next 3 weeks? How about electronica duos digitizing their way around Singapore in 5 weeks? You get the idea... Once you set your parameters, Deli Radio taps into songs from bands and artists that have been tagged. Now the listener not only has access to your songs, they've seen your pics, they've checked out your videos and most importantly, they know when you're coming to town.

RL: What led to the creation of 'Deli Radio'?

DR: DeliRadio was conceived in 2010 at Berkeley-based music label Ninth Street Opus. The two companies still share some key employees and an increasingly cramped office space. As a music label, the problem we were facing every day (and still face) is trying to put the label's artists in front of more eyes and ears. This is very, very challenging in today's environment where music sales don't really underwrite much of anything like they used to, and people's attention span is diluted by so many media options. In the online realm, we studied the landscape of both what was needed by, and available to, emerging artists. And we set out to fill a gap in the marketplace.

RL: What backgrounds are the creators coming from? Who is involved?

DR: Most of the company's early employees met at a Berkeley pub (not joking) called Beckett's, where we would party and watch The Sisters in Soul perform each week. This went on from 2002 to 2007 or so. Our business backgrounds were all over the map - law, software, hedge funds/finance, web/graphic design, booking & artist management. In hindsight, the perfect brew for DeliRadio! Anyway, in mid-2008 we formed Opus, and began signing bands, and learning the business from the ground up. We had almost no idea about best practices for a label. We made it up as we went. That no-boundaries attitude probably has a lot to do with why we're now in the streaming radio business alongside the music label.

RL: How can musicians get the most out of the site?

DR: Make great music. That's where you start. Then put it on DeliRadio. Then play shows... If it's truly great, your fans will find it, and share it. DeliRadio makes it super easy for friends to share music and share info with one another. Now, that's DeliRadio's advice for aspiring professional musicians. But any "scene" can benefit from DeliRadio. A high school or college can have a student station (or many), so can gospel choirs, so can rap artists who work for the US Postal Service... any scene can make a DeliRadio station and share their music with friends/family/anyone.

RL: What kind of impact do you expect Deli Radio to have on indie musicians? What kind of impact do you want it to have?

DR: Most folks go to see a small number of shows each year, and they tend to be in big auditoriums, even stadiums. This is because they are simply not informed about other choices, they have no efficient way of knowing who's playing the smaller venues and clubs down the street from them. They don't want to take a risk on an unknown band (and I don't blame them). DeliRadio takes care of that risk: you hear and see what you're going to get at a show (well, a pretty good idea anyway). So DeliRadio should result in more people going to more shows -- up to and including the stadiums -- people still need to find out that Paul McCartney is coming to town, even if they don't need to be sold on the music!

RL: The partnership with SongKick is a great feature. How did that come about?

DR: It's hard to remember... the pieces tumbled together pretty quickly 20 months ago when DeliRadio was being designed. Originally Opus set out to offer a suite of online promo tools for free to any artist (we were building them for our artists in-house, so we figured, why not?). Included in that suite of tools was auto-importation of dates. Songkick was the most well populated with dates worldwide. From there, came the Eureka moment: "Hmmmmm. Venue calendars and artists and songs... That's a station we're describing." When that idea came up, we dropped all the other pieces we were building. This idea was "the big one", the one artists and fans really needed. We scrapped a lot of work and code that day, but it was definitely the right thing to do.

RL: When and how will artists be able to sell their music on the site?

DR: They can right now. Then can enter links to iTunes/Amazon, AND they can also set up direct sales on DeliRadio, using PayPal as the cashier. DeliRadio does not take a piece.

RL: What is the vision for the company? Is this the future of radio?

DR: DeliRadio is definitely PART of the future of radio. How big a part is the question. It's going to take a while to see what the public's reaction to it is, and how quickly it permeates and changes the underlying culture of music-going. It definitely has the potential to increase the volume of shows/tickets sold each year, and that has to be good for music. I also think that various reputations will evolve (even more than they have already), such that fans will know to tune into Detroit MI for X music, Austin TX for Y, and Tokyo for Z... on and on. Where will the best punk be? Could be HK. Could be Vladivostok. Who knows. Or perhaps it will be VENUES that become known internationally for their booking prowess. Yoshi's Oakland could be listened to, as a DeliStation, by jazz fans the world over. Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles for singer/songwriter... It's going to be very interesting to see what happens.