Mushrooms and Yapping On About Strategy

March 22, 2018

Never going to turn down a work-related excuse to get out of the office, and I got the perfect leave of absence yesterday with the Melbourne Bookers Lunch.

It was at Rupert On Rupert, hosted by Eventbrite and Cult Leader with Triple R’s Sarah Smith on emcee duties. In between (very delicious) courses, we were treated to a Music Victoria update from Patrick Donovan, followed by a panel about touring best practices with Chris O’Brien (Destroy All Lines), Mike Christidis (Untitled Group) and Emily York (Penny Drop).

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I also had a turn at the microphone, with Sarah having a chat with Unified‘s GM Nick Yates and myself about tour marketing strategies. Here are some random takeaways from my brain:

  • Don’t rush if you don’t have to. Unless you absolutely need to announce a tour/show because of external factors (e.g. artist is also appearing on a festival that is being announced ASAP), it pays to give yourself a few business days to get ready. Allow your team enough time to get Facebook & Instagram access, YouTube remarketing access, conversion tracking set up, ad copy approved and tour artwork over the line. Pretty much every single rushed tour announce I’ve worked on hasn’t had the impact it should have (and would have, if we had our ducks in a row). Yes, people can rush to get things out the door when we need to, but GIVE US TIME and you will get better results.
  • Use genuine content to really connect with your audience. Showcase an artist’s personality. Make content that works with your audience (don’t be something to everyone). Have personality. Everyone is so used to seeing a press shot with some “CITY, excited to see you” bullshit, so be authentic to fans. Engage first, sell tickets second.
  • Sell yourself. What’s your point of difference? Is your show special because it’s in an interesting venue (a velodrome or a zoo perhaps?) or is there a special theme across a series of events? If the artist has been in the market recently, is there something special about this new tour? Why should fans dish out another $80 to see a band they saw half a year ago? Have they released a new album, and are they playing brand new music live for the first time? Or is this a special anniversary show with a reunited lineup?

P.S. Love a good name plate.

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#IWD2018

March 11, 2018

Happy International Women’s Day for Thursday!

IWD was especially meaningful to me this year, because this was the first time I’ve ever done something IRL to celebrate.

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I spent the morning at the One of One Breakfast at the gorgeous Abbotsford Convent, in a room of over 150 talented and amazing women in music (many of whom I consider friends, and have had the pleasure of working with over the past decade).

I teared up during Stella Donnelly’s performance of Boys Will Be Boys (content warning: this song is about sexual assault and victim blaming), and then just full-on cried during Linda Bosidis’ heartfelt keynote speech about her late husband Dean Turner, her children, and being a Virgoan quiet-achiever in a male-dominated industry. Read her speech and weep here. Kudos to One of One’s incredible founders Sarah Hamilton, Vader Fame and Joanne Cameron.

On the Bolster front, Lauren and I (ahem, but mostly Lauren TBH) put together little pearls of wisdom from the women of Bolster. Check it out here, and we also put together a Spotify playlist celebrating just a handful of our fave women.

I’ve been kicking around the music industry for 9 years now, and it’s absolutely heartwarming to see all the other women who started at the same time as me still around, smashing goals. All of us who were interning and undertaking every single shit paying, shit kicker job in the late noughties now all work full time in the industry, working for labels, radio stations or promoters, or running their own businesses.

Here’s to another decade of women in music!

P.S. Fun fact: companies that have higher female representation on their boards make more money.

Peak Productivity

January 20, 2018

Was talking to my Bolster co-workers about music and productivity recently, and we figured this out:

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(Completely scientific. Trust me. Sample size of 4. 100% confidence interval.)

Let me explain.

  • Don’t really need to focus = eh, nah no music needed
  • Kinda need to start focusing pretty hard = yes please, some music
  • REALLY STRESSED AND NEED TO FOCUS = fuck off headphones, complete silence please

(That last point is usually when I go hide in one of the cute new isolation standing desk pods in the office.)

Anyway, here’s a playlist I made for that sweet spot when you need some productivity-increasing music. I used this to power through a 70-page festival report last year. It works. You’re welcome.

  

2017 Wrapped Up

December 10, 2017

Some call it creepy*, but I think it’s neat… Spotify has yet again gotten creative with its user data. Say hello to its new Your 2017 Wrapped app. Here are my top plays on the streaming service this year.

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That’s 27,138 minutes of music, across 2,874 songs by 1,121 different artists. And apparently across 73 genres. I don’t think I could name 20 genres, let alone 73.

It’s really interesting that while my top artists and tracks (save Andy Stott and Matthew Dear) were both alternative, my fave genre this was indietronica. (Side note – the term indietronica is disgusting to me, but I think this is what Spotify means.)

Pretend to be me for a hot minute and listen to my 2017 soundtrack here. See how this compares to my 2016 listening habits.

* Not as creepy as Netflix.

TWO YEARS (and three months)

November 13, 2017

Happy to celebrate my two year anniversary at Bolster Digital this August! That’s 27 months (ahem, this blog post is a touch late) of making loud noises on my keyboard, banging out campaigns, drinking coffee and microwaving tofu in our office kitchen.

Have had the pleasure on working on some of Australia’s best festivals like Splendour In The Grass, Falls Festival, Laneway Festival and Beyond The Valley, and also smash out tour campaigns for artists like London Grammar, Sia, Elton John, Robbie Williams, Tash Sultana, Angus & Julia Stone, James Vincent McMorrow, Sigur Ros and a bunch more. During the past couple of years, I’ve also been able to work on album campaigns for artists like The Cat Empire, The xx, Queens of the Stone Age, London Grammar, Iggy Pop, Bernard Fanning.

It’s also been neat to watch us grow from a team of three (see: picture below) sharing a few desks at White Sky Hub, to over 20 staff plus a few part time doggos in our own Collingwood space.

Here’s to many more minutes of tofu microwaving.

Lnwy, Another Avenue

October 20, 2017

Say hola to LNWY.co! The music media site is a collaboration between Bolster and St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival (a.k.a. the music event that most aligns with my taste in music).

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Before you roll your eyes (oh good, another agency/brand buying a media outlet), the premise behind LNWY is really refreshing.

Something we noticed at Bolster is that media outlets have moved away from the type of music journalism we grew up with. I absolutely fell in love with music via reading long form articles in grotty-yet-precious copies of Rolling Stone and Q Magazine I borrowed from the local library. This was the only way I had any insight into my favourite bands. Well, that and begging my mum to buy me terrible, unofficial band bios and trawling through dingy internet forums. As much as listicles are sometimes useful, you really can’t delve into the psyche of a band via a top five list of really obvious facts that comes up on Google. A one-sentence track-by-track doesn’t really paint a proper picture of what an album is about. Ten boring news pieces from different media outlets around the same festival announce that all magically mention the same few key words and adjectives smells… fishy. Smells like some lazy interns copying and pasting bits from a press release.

I love that the Bolster x Laneway team brought in the big guns to get the content side of things right. They hired Darren Levin to be the Managing Editor.  (To save you from creepily looking him up on LinkedIn, he’s the former Editor-In-Chief at Sound Alliance, a writer for Rolling Stone and #1 Dad according to his office water bottle.) There’s also budget for content. What the fuck. When I was in the music writing game I got paid in CDs, free tickets and a byline.

The design side has been handled by Nicky Humphries at Bolster, who’s come up with a devastatingly beautiful site. Jake Cleland did a nice write up describing the tasty UX. I also love how most of the photos, videos and illustrations are completely designed and created for LNWY. Similar to the words, the visuals aren’t just pulled out of a Dropbox that every other media outlet is using.

On the advertising side of things, the other different thing is that the site isn’t calling for bands and artists to pay money to get air time. I think we’ve all gotten used to the fact that editorial and advertising sleep together (#ad #sponsored #paid), but there’s something gross about how skewed the portion of paid vs. not paid content on some sites have gotten. (Alex Zacca’s panel at BIGSOUND discussed this in circles.) For contrast, LNWY has zero advertising space on it. Zero leaderboards. Zero MRECs. Zero towers. A music site still needs money, and that comes from really beautifully executed native content, powered by related brands and publicly declared as sponsored.

It kind of reminds me of what I had in mind for Paper-Deer, but up about a hundred notches. For those who don’t know, PD was a completely non-profit music blog I ran for a couple of years in my early twenties. No ads (I didn’t have budget to pay my contributors though, soz, but I also didn’t make money for myself either). I had a strict ‘no copying and pasting’ policy so we would never push out a news article that was purely based on a presser. Everything had to be freshly written or photographed specifically for Paper-Deer for it to go live. You’d be surprised at how many bands and publicists asked how to pay us money (which we didn’t accept) before even sending us music to listen to. PD died in its ass because I was too busy with agency work to give it attention. And also it wasn’t that great. Before you try Googling it, the site is no longer live :P

Moving on… Laneway Fest is one of Bolster’s longest digital clients. I’ve worked across the festival’s digital advertising for three cycles, and am very excited to be helping on the digital strategy and implementation for LNWY around its launch into the world.

If you want some further reading, check out Laneway founder Danny’s piece on it here. And some nice pieces from The Music Network and Mumbrella on the venture too. Have a poke around LNWY or send a like over to the Facebook page.

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P.S. We all had to keep this under our little felt hats for months. Wasn’t easy when select people at BIGSOUND were yelling, “I SIGNED AN NDA ABOUT THE SECRET PROJECT CAN WE TALK PLEASE,” at me. Definitely did not help.

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BIGSOUND 2017 Wrap

September 26, 2017

This time last week 💖 Until next time, Brisbane. #BIGSOUND17

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Obligatory BIGSOUND wrap because that’s how I roll. Here are how things went down in the Valley:

  • I got a cold immediately after BIGSOUND, but that’s a given because I always get sick after fun events.
  • Andrew had to play with a very sparse drum kit at our final showcase gig yet still nailed it.
  • The Bolster espresso martini party was a blast, but did not enjoy the fact that the two finger food options on offer were chunks of meat and cheese in cabbage.
  • I found out that I get quite pouty when I’m performing. (Video evidence below.)
  • Everyone laughed at me because I packed trail mix, Special K, brown rice and lentils in my luggage. TBH I’m Asian though, bringing rice on a trip is mandatory.
  • We finally got to play Cinder Bloc live in front of real humans.
  • A Brisbane Uber drive yelled at me for making a super short trip. (My excuse was I had a lot of heavy music gear. He felt differently.)
  • Brisbane weather in September is fucking delightful.
  • Anthony Zaccaria’s panel on data and the independent artist was really interesting, and I did so much live tweeting from the front row that my phone started heating up. Alex Zacca’s panel on the future of music media was also fascinating but everyone talked in Trump-long sentences so it was impossible to live tweet.
  • Pretty sure DARTS managed to get to #7 at one point on BIGSOUND Buzz.
  • I managed to clock 19K steps on day 3 of BIGSOUND. Yeah, I walk a lot when I’m not getting yelled at by Uber drivers.

Until next time Brisbane <3

Pout and about with our very own @tigerburning and @dartsmusic 🖤🎹🖤🎹🖤 #bigsound17

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P.S. Exciting DARTS and Bolster news incoming.

BIGSOUND Itinerary

August 31, 2017

Headed to sunny Brisbane for BIGSOUND conference and festival next week. This will be my third time with the Bolster boys, the second time showcasing as a performing artist and my fifth time ever. Are BIGSOUND loyalty cards a thing?

Excited to be playing two super new DARTS songs* live (see also: nervous). Four BIGSOUND showcases all up. Dates below/over on our site here.

Both Bolster directors Anthony and Alex Zaccaria are doing panels at the conference too. Anzac will be talking about Data and the Independent Artist, alongside the likes of Stu Watters (AIR, Nightlife), Neil Robertson (Music Glue), Jared Kristiensen (Audience Republic) and Tom Deakin (Merlin). Alex’s panel will discuss if Music Can Float In A Flooded Multi-Media Landscape, with Leigh Treweek from The Music and others.

On the topic of Bolster + BIGSOUND, we’ve rolled out BIGSOUND Buzz again. Froth over it. (Our Creative Director Nicky made it real pretty. He makes everything pretty.)

P.S. I say this every year. I’ll say it again. I have terrible eyesight so I have trouble recognising people so please say hi if you see me because I probably can’t see you! And no, I will not get glasses. They gross.

See you (kind of) in the Valley.

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* New songs! Distance = Infinity and Cinder Bloc, out now via Rice Is Nice & Inertia.

New DARTS Songs

August 18, 2017

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Hello, world! Two new DARTS songs out in the world today.

We’ve built a cheeky little clubhouse in Bendigo for rehearsing and songwriting (YES) and we will hopefully have a full album ready over the next little while. In the mean time these songs are a li’l preview of what we have in store for you.

Distance = Infinity and Cinder Bloc, out today via Rice Is Nice & Inertia! Beautiful artwork by the folk at Confetti, and shiny new press shots by James Robinson.

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Splendour Wrap

July 29, 2017

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SPLENDOUR SPLENDOUR SPLENDOUR.

The whole Bolster team went up to Splendour for our annual team retreat in Byron Bay last week. Three days at the festival. Four days of relaxing/trying to do work/getting frustrated by the total lack of internet in coastal New South Wales.

Here’s a li’l wrap of my #blstrretreat highlights:

  1. Chilling with the Bolster team in beautiful Ocean Shores (evidence: above photo)
  2. Booking (and paying) for a massage ten minutes into the future, and somehow getting distracted by Peking Duk within those ten minutes and completely missing my massage
  3. Really enjoying Peking Duk’s ridiculous DJ/live/DJ set (much talent, what babes, etc. etc.)
  4. Re-booking my massage for the next day and missing it again
  5. Making up for it by getting a free massage at the Moshtix Splendour party
  6. Having the same taste in food as Sigur Ros
  7. Trying to act cool meeting Father John Misty (while internally not being so cool)
  8. Getting the one room in our Airbnb that looked like a brothel (hint: purple everything plus a very stained couch)
  9. Being blown away by The xx
  10. Being even more blown away by Josh Homme and friends
  11. Finding a kitchenette on the site and treating myself to peanut butter toast all festival-long
  12. Getting to watch LCD Soundsystem side of stage with a cup of Lempsip
  13. Taking some really creepy portraits of my co-workers at the airport.

On a more serious note, it was also really awesome working on the Splendour advertising campaign from start to finish this year, and being able to see the whole festival in action. Until 2018, Splendour <3

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