Music

Year In Music

December 20, 2016

Is it a bit weird that I work in the music industry and am constantly listening to new music, yet my most played songs of 2016 are largely songs from previous years?

According to Spotify, the tunes I spun the most this year were:

  1. ‘When I’m Small’ by Phantogram (new album was good, but this song just takes the cake)
  2. ‘Take a Dip’ by Weaves
  3. ‘Digital Witness’ by St. Vincent

Apart from these top three, I ended up listening to 3,273 unique songs by 1,266 total artists for over 35,262 minutes… Full playlist below. Largely chicks with guitars singing loudly… Typical.

In terms of new albums I really dug, I thought the new Glass Animals album was ace and had GA’s signature style but was a real progression from their first album. September Girls’ new LP ‘Age of Indignation’ also got a real thrashing this year, but I still love their older ‘Veneer’ EP so much.

The 8 Percent Festival, and The Role of Record Labels

November 12, 2016

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Thanks to The 8 Percent Festival for having me at their music panel! Yes, that’s me wearing a headset. I promise there were no cone bras on that stage. The sound guys just ran out of less-mental lapel mics. Also on the panel was Art Alexakis (Everclear), Joel De Ross (FMIN), and Luca Lucchesi (The Vaudeville Smash).

The panel was on the topic of music and the future of the industry, from the perspective of bands and record labels. The question that was put forward to me before the conference to think about was:

In your view, what are the main benefits an artist receives from signing to a label, whether they be big or small?

…this is something I can talk about for days. I know it’s really easy to shit on labels because there’s a weird consensus with some that: a) major labels fuck over artists and take all their royalties, and b) indie labels don’t know what the fuck they’re doing, and still take a lot of the royalties.

Maybe accurate for some artists/label relationships, which is unfortunate, but definitely not true for all. Here’s how I view labels:

  • The record label as an investor. I think some bands forget that the reason why they might not see royalties for a while is because their sales are covering marketing/manufacturing/PR costs around the album release, which the label covers initially and (sometimes depending on the deal) recoups off royalties. The labels have to make calculated guesses at the best initial spend on these activities for the best outcome (sell a shit load of records, make a band famous, etc.) without overspending. There’s a point where more advertising costs do not equal sales in a proportionate amount… Also, you have no idea how hard it is to figure out how many physical copies of an album to make for a band with no sales history. Too little = you miss out on sales and it’s harder for retailers to have a healthy amount of stock across all stores on release day. Too many and you’ve wasted money on manufacturing and are overstocked. (Also royalties take time to actually be processed by iTunes, Spotify and physical retailers. That delay isn’t all from the label side of things.)
  • The record label as a curator. This applies a lot more to indie labels than majors that sign anything from a largely commercial/sales point of view (although maybe rings true for imprint labels), but there are a few record labels that I love, and will give anything signed to their label a chance because I trust their A&R skills.
  • The record label as the expert. Artists signed to a label get a whole team behind them who look after distribution, manufacturing, royalties, marketing/advertising, retail/trade pitching and the like as a full time job. They’re been doing it for a while and they know what works and doesn’t work, and can often borrow ideas from other successful release campaigns.
  • The record label as the connection. Working with a record label also means that you get to be aligned with all their previous good working relationships with manufacturing plants (read: bulk  discounts), radio (easier radio adds), DSPs (think iTunes features and Spotify playlisting), retail (trade marketing and distribution) and media (more coverage). Label backing also helps tremendously when artists try to break other countries.

Not that a label deal is the only way to release music – it definitely depends on the artist and the label (and even further, the actual release). I just think labels do a hell of lot that people don’t realise. There. I’ve said it. ^_^

Not sure if the panel was filmed, but if it was I’ll link it up here soon so you can laugh at my headset action.

Talking To Ourselves

October 9, 2016

As I mentioned the other day, Alex and I did a webinar on digital advertising last week! Here’s a link to the Crowdcast – I know you can definitely watch the replay if you RSVPed… Not sure if you didn’t RSVP ahead of time but try and see what happens ^__^

It was the first time I’ve ever done a webinar or talked to a web cam without someone talking back a la Google Hangouts or Skype. A bit weird at first but after Alex and I finished and turned to each other and said, “Well, that was actually fun.” Definitely helped having someone else there to chat through our curriculum – it would have been harder to be peppy and engaging solo. Also awesome to have people live streaming us from around Australia and asking us great questions.

P.S. While we’re on the topic of talking to large groups of people about what I do for work, I’m speaking on a panel at The 8 Percent in Melbourne on Monday. Updates on that next week!

@azac89 and I did an internet thing tonight 🤗 mid-@blstr.co-webinar selfie.

A photo posted by Paige X. Cho 🌘🌠 (@tigerburning) on

BIGSOUND 2016 Report

September 25, 2016

I could write an essay about BIGSOUND… but who has time for that ^__^ Here’s how this year’s trip went in a bunch of dot points:

  • Awesome to meet the QMusic team in person, after months of talking to them on the phone.
  • Sadly missed Kim Gordon’s keynote speech (plus most of the other conference sessions I had earmarked) because I was doing urgent campaign work from our apartment. But did manage to catch an interesting panel around A&R and marketing, and also hear one of the Pandora guys talk very candidly and honestly about streaming (and how they can do it better).
  • Also watched a session where a panelist criticised a recent advertising campaign I ran because it listed the national tour dates instead of just ticketing details for Sydney, his hometown. Did go up and have a chat to him afterwards because we did that strategically during the announce phase to highlight how large the national tour was/how big the band has become, and I think he died a little on the inside. (He was a really nice dude and had no idea I worked on the campaign… I just really needed to tell him haha.)
  • Our digital advertising workshop was apparently the most popular of the whole conference and was completely booked out. Also it ran perfectly on time… WINNING.
  • Serviced apartment with a full kitchen + near Woollies = best outcome for a girl who struggles to eat healthy/cheap when not in Melbourne.
  • BIGSOUND Buzz really freaked out band managers.
  • Showcase highlights: Jarrow, Alex Lahey, Vera Blue, Fractures, Teeth & Tongue and Olympia.
  • Espresso martinis at the Bolster party was a great idea. Side note – I ended up spontaneously doing door bitch duties (which is 100% fine) but a couple of industry people treated me like a lowlife, so that’s a great way to filter out jerks. (Never assume door people are only door people.)
  • After party toilet lines = best place for conversations.
  • Post BIGSOUND flu is a thing, and I’m still sick :(

Getting ready to spice things up at our Digital Advertising workshop 🌶🌶 #BIGSOUND16 #blstrLIFE

A photo posted by Bolster (@blstr.co) on

😍😍😍 #BIGSOUND16

A photo posted by Bolster (@blstr.co) on

Nerd Alert: Writing For Web

September 3, 2016

I recently decided to take a short course in writing for web via Open2Study, the free sister program of Open Universities. Seems pretty weird considering that I’ve been paid to write content for web contexts for almost a decade… but it was free, I haven’t actually studied writing/comms in a formal setting, and I am an ultimate nerd. (And yep, I passed.)

I  stumbled upon the course from a careers blog, and it definitely had immediate takeaways that I could apply to my current job in digital advertising. A lot of what I know about writing for online environments has been largely through experimenting, accidentally learning things on the go and seeing how other writers play with words (both good and bad). While I don’t think there was anything revolutionary in the course, it was a great way to turn my random hunches about web writing into a neat little list of best practices.

In terms of takeaways specific to music:

  • The end user and channel is pretty important, which is why a press release doesn’t need to be the same as a band bio. And should rarely be the same as social media content.
  • Context of use is often overlooked. Some of our festival clients have horrendous sites that make it hard for mobile users to purchase a ticket (i.e. try filling out 40 fields with an iPhone keyboard) even though most of their traffic is via mobile devices. Or I often see other advertisers push iTunes links to my Android device.
  • Copy needs to be relevant to the audience that is getting it. Half the time I get advertising for bands that I don’t follow with extremely basic copy (e.g. “NAME-OF-BAND-I’VE-NEVER-HEARD-OF’s new album out now on iTunes.”). This doesn’t sell the product to me because I have no idea what you’re about and there’s no story to entice me.
  • Consistency across channels is pretty important. I think many music brands (e.g. festivals, bands, labels) are great at being consistent across one channel (e.g. just Facebook, just Instagram, just their blog) but not so much between channels (i.e. is the tone of voice the same between their EDM, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Triple J Unearthed profile?). Big brands have style guides and a developed TOV, but most music brands don’t because the content is much more organic and/or channels may be split up between band members.

There was also a heap of content more focused around blogs and websites too, so here’s the course in case any of you want to ride nerdy with me.

BIGSOUND Buzz

August 31, 2016

WARNING: THIS SITE IS FUCKING BEAUTIFUL.

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Bolster (well, Mike & Nicky) built a social analytics site called BIGSOUND Buzz to accompany BIGSOUND. It ranks all 160 bands from the festival lineup according to who is the most talked about on Facebook and Twitter, over windows of the last 6 hours, 12 hours, day, 2 days and a week. Neat little summary around it on The Music.

Did notice a couple of grumpy peeps rag on this saying you can’t rank bands objectively because taste is subjective… which is TRUE. We’re not trying to rank the best bands of BIGSOUND, just trying to make all the noise a bit neater and see which bands people are writing the most about! Two different things. Also you’ll thank us at 10.30pm on day three when you don’t know which band to see next and your brain is fried ;)

Enjoy x

P.S. Here’s another bzzzz I like quite a lot.

Guess Who’s Running a BIGSOUND Workshop?

August 22, 2016

Me!

Headed up to Fortitude Valley in a few weeks for BIGSOUND, and excited to announce that I’ll be running a workshop with my boss at Bolster, Alex Zaccaria.

Naturally the workshop is on digital advertising (what we do best), and is called “Digital Advertising: More Than Just Boosting A Post?” Blurb below (no crediting because ahem, I wrote the blurb myself):

Too often bands, labels, festivals, and promoters focus too much on boosting a couple of page posts and forget all about the other digital advertising platforms. This masterclass dives into the different advertising channels on offer including Google Search, Google Display Network, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, publishers and more, plus other kinds of Facebook advertising types. You’ll learn about each platform’s key benefits for different kind of music product (recorded music vs. live music), and when in a campaign cycle each works best.

More info here. Hoping to get a nice mix of industry peeps across bands/management, labels, events, festivals and venues. If I remember correctly, only about 42 places for this masterclass. Registrations only to conference pass holders (BOOK YOUR CONFERENCE PASS IT WILL SELL OUT I AM NOT JOKING).

See you all in September!

Post-Splendour Report

July 29, 2016

Current feels:

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Not complaining though… Splendour was a great chance to meet a bunch of Bolster clients in person (especially those based in Sydney), plus check out some of the bands we look after.

When I told Violent Soho‘s manager that the last time I saw them was at Ding Dong (guess how long ago that was), he laughed and assured me that their stage production had improved a tiny bit. He was correct:

SOHO SO GOOD 👌👌👌 @violentsoho4122 side of stage at #sitg2016

A video posted by Paige X. Cho 🌘🌠 (@tigerburning) on

Other highlights were Flume, who we’re working on both via his label and for touring:

@flumemusic = ✨🌠🎆 #SITG2016

A photo posted by Paige X. Cho 🌘🌠 (@tigerburning) on

And The Cure, who we don’t work on but I have just obsessed over since I was an overly romantic teenager:

The moment my heart exploded with happiness 😍😍😍 The Cure at #SITG2016

A photo posted by Paige X. Cho 🌘🌠 (@tigerburning) on

Also all hail the weather gods for not bringing us any rain, just lovely sunshine.

🌴🌴🌴🌊🌊🌊

A video posted by Paige X. Cho 🌘🌠 (@tigerburning) on

This Is Why I Can’t Have Pets

July 2, 2016

So happy to announce that Darts will be heading over to Sydney next month for Volumes Festival. Looking forward to watching Nicholas Allbrook, Royal Blackouts, Rainbow Chan and Terrible Truths.

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And from there, my year will be Splendour In The Grass (yes, hello, come at me), BIGSOUND in September, and then Queensland again in summer. This is why I can’t have nice (furry) things (with names and feelings and expensive vet bills).

If you’re also flying to the east coast for SITG or BIGSOUND, hit me up so we can share a coconut water and secrets. Or just coconut water.

Types Of Music Consumers

May 22, 2016

Was reading through the April/May issue of ad rag B&T and came across this little consumer-themed DIY paper fortune teller:

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Nice touch, hey? I remember doing these in primary school but can’t actually remember what we wrote on this inside. Especially since I spent all eleven years of school in single sex institutions, so there was no crushing on boys for me!

The B&T paper fortune teller was not about high school heart throbs, but rather types of consumers. These were the possible choices:

  • The Troll – a.k.a. every brand’s worst nightmare, a.k.a. dicks, a.k.a. arseholes with too much time
  • The Researcher – weirdos like me who watch YouTube videos of people using stuff before I buy it
  • The Social Crusader – charity/brand partnerships were made for these kinds of folks
  • The Bargain Hunter – zombies you see lining up outside MYER at 4am on Boxing Day
  • The Pragmatist – sensible people
  • The Anti-Consumer – ad blockers are like water to these peeps (read: 100% necessary)
  • The Shopaholic – new stuff now, all day, err’day
  • The Loyalist – hardcore brand advocates (or maybe too lazy to stray)
  • (Side note – I think this is also missing a new type of consumer… Users who purchase/use items for prestige and how it’ll make them look on social media. You have no idea how many times I’ve been at brunch and my fellow diners order certain food because it’ll Instagram better. But I get there’s only space for 8 consumers. And also this is a joke thing they printed in their magazine and I’m probably the only person who actually cut it out. Okay, byeee.)

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Cute gimmick, but made me think about how marketing music as a product is so different to other industries. (NB when I say music as a product, I’m referring to an experience like recorded music and live music, whether it’s a music video, album on vinyl, Spotify stream, festival or concert. Not so much things like purchasing guitars, mixing software, piano lessons or rehearsal studios.)

You can’t apply these consumer stereotypes when it comes to something so subjective and wildly personal as experiencing music. There’s no such thing as a Bargain Hunter, unless you maybe count jerks who illegally download music. The Researcher doesn’t really exist with music, because you can read a thousand reviews about an album, but you physically need to listen to it to decide if it floats your boat.

When I think about the different music consumers I’m trying to target for a campaign, I imagine them less as archetypes and more as varied individuals who sit on different points along three different spectra. And where a single music fan is on these scales depends on what the music product is (e.g. a guy who goes to Meredith without fail but needs at least three bands he likes to consider Splendour, but will Instagram the shit out of both festivals if he’s there). These are:

Fans ←→ Not Invested

Fans are the folk we all love… Those gorgeous people who frantically refresh the ticketing page of their favourite festival when tickets go on sale (regardless of lineup), or folk who pre-order an album three months before it’s released. Not invested people aren’t haters, they just need a lot more than a name to get them to commit to a music product. Fans generally give us higher CTRs and lower CPCs. Not invested people can sometimes eat up advertising budgets because they need so much convincing.

Trendsetters ←→ Slow Burners

Think of music nerds who love discovering new music via Paul Lester or Indie Shuffle, compared to peeps who need to hear a song on Triple J daily for two months before they like it, or need all their friends to be going to a festival before they land a ticket for themselves as well. I think social media advertising works better on slow burners than publisher advertising because they can see if their mates are interacting with a band/festival on that platform. Stats-wise for slow burners, think targeting groups that clock up high frequency scores.

Vocal ←→ Silent

Regardless of where consumers sit on the above two scales is unrelated to how vocal they are about music. Some people will tweet about new albums (even if they hate it, or maybe especially if they hate it), tag themselves at music festivals and Instagram pictures of what’s spinning on their record player that moment. Silent characters just go about their music consumption without involving other people. Dollars from both types of consumers are great, but vocal consumers are more likely to act as brand advocates and take part in activations. Silent consumers also tend to just click on website links on Facebook advertising without also liking or commenting on the post.

Maybe I’m just thinking about things too much, but I definitely find it useful to figure out who I’m trying to reach and at what times. For example, no point targeting hardcore fans during week three of a campaign because they’ve probably already dropped some cash on whatever it is I’m trying to get them to look at.

Shoot me an email if you know how I can put three scales on a paper fortune teller ;)

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