Industry Connect Masterclass For QMusic

May 3, 2018

Next stop… Toowoomba!

Headed to the Queensland in July to host a QMusic masterclass on social media and digital marketing for musicians. Here’s what I’ll be making some pretty PowerPoint slides to:

A transforming music industry landscape, hand in hand with a social revolution, has made the role of content and brand crucial. In an overcrowded and distracted social space how do you build an authentic brand across multiple social media platforms during and outside of release cycles? Click Here will provide you with the know-how to build your online presence and be visible in a saturated market.

Nirkio McLure (GM of Wonder Music Co.) will also be running a masterclass on the day, unlocking the secrets of the often misunderstood album release cycle.

Read more, RSVP and laugh at my weird press shot here.

Facebook’s Data Woes

May 1, 2018

Facebook’s been in the news a shit ton lately, and I’ve gotten a few emails from Bolster clients (of varying degrees of panic) about what it means for the music industry. Does it change the advertising game for us? Or is it still business as usual for festivals, labels and promoters on the platform?

I wrote a HUGE breakdown of what’s happened, what Facebook’s been proactively doing and what it means for Bolster’s clients on Medium.

It’s long. Sorry. I tried. There was too much stuff to mention. Make a cup of tea and enjoy. (And then immediately go to your Facebook settings and lock that shit down.)

Clicks Vs Tix

April 27, 2018

What comes first? The YouTuber, or the sold out comedy fest show? The funny person on Twitter with a million followers, or the award-winning comedian? The chicken or the egg? (Sorry, not sorry.)

I ducked out to The Wheeler Centre on the weekend for their Clicks vs Tix session, held in partnership with Melbourne International Comedy Fest. The hour-long talk was hosted by Jodi Crocker, with comedians Geraldine Hickey, Phil Wang, Sorabh Pant and Zach Ruane fielding questions about the digital space fits in with being successful in the comedy world.

The conversation went in a million (interesting) directions, but here were my key takeaways around content and advertising.

Should wannabe comedians try to strike gold online first, then bring their shows to the real world? Or start on the comedy circuit and the online likes will follow?

All four speakers kinda said yes and no to this one. PW’s experience was that great online audiences can lead to ticket sales, but rarely the other way around. Comedy goers don’t enjoy stand up at a local club then immediately go home and become a rabid digital fan. (I feel like this is actually the opposite to music. There are so many bands that are completely meh recorded, but have an online following because their live show is on fire.)

ZR also pointed out that Aunty Donna’s YouTube audience needed some, erm, training to get use to the idea of live shows. YouTube audiences love meeting their creators, but it took a few years for the Aunty Donna fan base to fully understand that their live shows are refreshed and rewritten each year, and that there is new content for hardcore fans to enjoy each time.

When asked if they’d rather win a Barry (MICF’s best show award) or have a million new subscribers:

PW had an interesting view on this. Awards have a shelf life based on how regularly they occur. If a Barry gets awarded annually, it’ll only boost the profile of the winner for a year. His advice? Cash in on it, ride the wave, get momentum… and then move on.

GH and ZR both also noted that a million views are not necessarily good views. Read: trolls.

How do audiences feel about comedians getting paid by brands?

On the topic of brand sponsorships, SP commented that audiences are now far more forgiving. It’s no longer about selling out. Fans recognise that brand endorsements = being able to consume content for free. (SP also commented that music is on the decline in India, but comedy is on the rise so brands are choosing to spend their influencer dollars with comedians instead.)

Going one step further, PW also mentioned that this attitude extends further to full-blown ads as well. Creators are getting paid to appear in ads for brands to cash in on the person’s likeability. The comedian (or musician, model, Instagrammer, athlete) stars in an ad to just be themselves, and the actual brand/product almost becomes a secondary element to the ad, purely to align themselves with the talent. (I’d say this has been the case for years though… a la Billy Connelly selling ING.)

And what about Facebook?

ZR had interesting things to say about Facebook in light of the recent data exposé. While it’s refreshing to shift the power away from that one person who has sway at a comedy festival, performers need to remember that social media doesn’t necessarily give you all the power. There’s still a gatekeeper; he’s just an internet billionaire in Silicon Valley now. You still need to remember that your online community is in the hands of someone else. (He also noted that their Facebook reach organically is declining like crazy.)

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Super interesting talk, so here’s a super bad picture of the panel. Enjoy.

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.

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