Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Dubber’

Soundcloud – now with advertising!

August 24, 2014

I’m all for Soundcloud making money. I think it’s a fantastic service and a great vehicle for promo, for works in progress and for allowing people to listen to your music.

It’s just a shame that when great services are looking to “monetise”, the answer is always advertising.

Now, it’s worth pointing out that I used to make radio commercials for a living, and I believe there’s such a thing as good advertising. You can entertain, and make a difference for a client (especially gratifying when it’s a small business trying to get a message out to people who would really appreciate what they do).

But when I hear “We’re adding advertising and paying the content creators – and you can pay to have the ads removed”, I always hear “we’ve made our service worse and broken the user experience, and you’ll need to give us money to fix it back the way it was, in order to stop the record labels from suing us”.

All of that is entirely unpleasant. And not just for the listener.

If I was an advertiser, and I was told that my commercials were essentially going to be used as a repellent to drive customers to pay to get rid of my message, I would not be excited about advertising on that platform.

Spotify is a case in point. Spotify wants paid subscribers. In order to do that, they make terrible, annoying and unpleasant ads. Who pays for these ads? Are they insane?

In an ideal world, businesses like Soundcloud and Spotify would choose between either making a service that people genuinely want to pay for (and giving artists and rights holders an equitable share of that revenue), or providing a service that is sustainable through the creation of great advertising that creates positive associations for the client and genuinely entertains, informs or at the very least, doesn’t piss off the target audience.

But the default message seems to be “give us money to make terrible and intrusive ads for your company, and we’ll use them to annoy people into paying us to make you go away.”

Which makes no sense to me at all. Hope that’s not what Soundcloud end up doing – but fear it might be.

— Andrew Dubber

Andrew Dubber is contributing editor The 360 Deal and co-founder of New Music Strategies.

I agree with Andrew Dubber, use soundcloud for tracks, works in progress, for albums use bandcamp.

But, if as Andrew Dubber reports, soundcloud is to introduce advertising, or even worse, pay to have the advertising removed, then that is indeed bad news, and this advice to use soundcloud will have to be reconsidered.

This is like at Larnaca Airport, crap check-in, with a premium ten euros for fast check-in. Or at least one mobile phone company, long delay if you call us, but pay a premium, and you get a better service.

There is something very wrong when a company provides a crap service, then expects you to pay to get a better service, the service you expected in the first place.

According to an article in The New York Times, advertising is part of soundcloud growing up, a deal with the major record labels, who will the use soundcloud to peddle their hyped crap. A deal with the major record labels, those global corporations who treat music as a commodity, who screw artists, who screw fans, who criminalise fans for sharing, is as bad news as advertising.

In many ways the move is a reaction to industry pressure to license content and produce revenue. It also reflects SoundCloud’s complex relationship with record labels, which use the service to promote new releases and even hunt for new talent but have been irritated by their inability to make money from SoundCloud’s millions of listeners.

As part of their licensing talks, major labels and some independents are negotiating with SoundCloud for equity stakes in the company.

It may be as Charles Eisenstein suggests in Sacred Economics, many of these services cannot be monetised. He cites Eric Reasons (Innovative Deflation):

Maybe the reason we’re having such a hard time finding out ways to monetize various internet services like Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube, is that they can’t be monetized.

We have reached the limits to growth, an end to the businesses model of exponential growth, loot the commons, then sell it back to us.

Internet enables a participatory gift economy. We have a desire to share. We use facebook, not because we like it, but that is where our friends are, who we desire to share with. Andrew Dubber, could be paid to write a couple of hundred words of drivel for a newspaper column, instead he freely shares his thoughts on the net. I share his thoughts, and add my two pence worth. Artists use soundcloud to share their music, poets and writers to share the spoken word.

When Murdoch introduced a paywall, people simple looked for the news elsewhere.

Bandcamp is a success because it enables sharing, but it also enables musicians to earn a living, and bandcamp takes a small cut for doing so.

To cite Eric Reasons again (Innovative Deflation):

We’re told to believe in our future in a knowledge based economy, but nobody has really figured out how to make real money of it. Of those who are making money off of it (Craigslist, Google), they are making pennies per dollar in the old markets that they’ve upset or practically eliminated with their innovation. This isn’t because we haven’t found the right monetization scheme yet. It is because innovation is leading to efficiency and not growth and that is exerting deflationary pressure on bloated industries. Moreover, it is largely being done by us, the end-user, in our free time, because we want to create and share, not just consume.

Innovation is cutting costs, and internet is accelerating that trend. The thesis of Jeremy Rifkin in The Zero Marginal Cost Society is that the marginal cost of things is tending to zero.

Open Source software gets written because software designers are willing to collaborate and do so for free, but what enables that collaboration is the internet. It is what has given us Apache and Linux upon which the net runs.

Greater efficiency, greater productivity, means more free time, though in reality it has resulted in mass unemployment and a concentration of wealth for the already rich. Those who have the free time fritter it away as zombies on soma in front of a widescreen TV, but it does not have to be, it can used creatively, through participation in the sharing economy, and although we may have less monetary income, in a sharing economy our lives are enriched through social engagement and interaction and through the gift economy, more for me becomes more for you.

Maybe it is my imagination but I appear to be receiving a growing number of promoted tweets. These are as annoying as junk mail and e-mail, junk texts and nuisance phone calls. If you have nothing useful to say keep quiet. If you have to pay to get your tweets promoted, then they cannot be worth reading. I generally ignore on the grounds maybe they will not know I exist. The only one I have responded to was from Vodafone, I hijacked their hashtag and used it to respond on their tax dodging. I did so with glee, knowing each and every response was costing them money. It caused an increase in their tweets then they stopped.

If soundcloud are to bastardise their service, users will simply migrate elsewhere.

One such alternative is mixcloud.

Steve Lawson recommends and to help, they even have a button to migrate from soundcloud.

Soundcloud controlled by major record labels, is not a place people will wish to be to share their music.

No, I do do not wish to see artists paid a pittance for having their output polluted by advertisements. I want to see artists rewarded for their creative output.

At Staycation Live this year, I was pleased to find a greater awareness of bandcamp, but still not widely used. Perverse when a band tells the crowd to find them on iTunes when they are on bandcamp. Anther told me they used spotify as better than bandcamp. It figured he worked in PR and marketing.

Many take a blunderbuss scatter-gun approach, they are everywhere and nowhere. Better to focus on a handful of worthwhile sites and keep updated. Twitter, facebook (a necessary evil), vimeo or youtube, bandcamp, soundcloud (or an alternative like mixcloud) a wordpress blog and a website, and interlink the sites.

What the internet does is provide equality.

If soundcloud introduce advertising or cut a deal with major record labels, then I strongly recommend artists migrate their work elsewhere and that users boycott soundcloud.

Music in the Digital Age

July 3, 2012
Music in the Digital Age

Music in the Digital Age

Everything you need to know about the music business but did not think to ask.

You can download Music in the Digital Age  for free. Though Andrew Dubber is quite happy for you to pay if you wish.

FREE! Yes free because the benefits flow from making it free.

Paulo Coelho caused a furore when he made his entire back catalogue available for download at 99 cents each e-book. His readers though were happy

Music in the Digital Age is a breath of fresh air compared with the garbage that emanates from the major record labels, who seek to criminalise people for their love of music.

Andrew Dubber is one of those rare individuals who sees the opportunities the internet has to offer. Who sees those who like what he is doing as friends to embrace, not enemies to criminalise.

I can count on one hand such people: Steve Lawson, Imogen Heap, Marian Call, Amanda Palmer.

If you are serious about a career in music then Music in the Digital Age is a MUST read.

If Music in the Digital Age is not a set book on your music course, ask why not.

Andrew Dubber is a co-founder of Any And All Records, the world’s fastest growing record label. It goes without saying that Music in the Digital Age is released on Any And All Records.

Music in the Digital Age is also available for download as an e-book in several formats, including pdf, Kindle and iPad.

Music in the Digital Age is also available in several languages other than English.

Musings on musicianship

June 11, 2012
John Moline playing at the Old Ford in North Camp

John Moline playing at the Old Ford in North Camp

Kids used to learn by rote. It went out of fashion. It now seems to be coming back as kids are trained to perform under continuous testing.

We have an education system where kids leave school uneducated, lacking any culture, the ability to read or write or count. They cannot even communicate. They are unemployable and destined for a life unemployed. The dirty jobs are done by Filipinos, skilled jobs by Poles. The height of their aspiration is a pair of Nike trainers on their feet, as we saw with the riots last summer. [see Wasted Youth]

In music this rote learning never went away. Lean how to play, then perform a set piece.

Want a career in music? What does that mean?

I used to see a group play in a hotel. There used to be three of them, then it was two. Every night the same. People used to joke they could set their watch by what they were playing. There was no enthusiasm. They were going through the motions. They looked bored stiff. They could have been automatons. Maybe they were.

One night, maybe approaching midnight, I thought, who is that playing, they are quite good. To my surprise it was the guys who had been playing during the evening. To my surprise they could play.

They then left the hotel. One afternoon I was walking along the beach. I heard some good music. I walked further on and found it was the guys who used to play in the hotel, playing outside a beach-side restaurant. Playing with enthusiasm.

It is thought it takes around 10,000 hours to become proficient.

Let us assume I write one hour every day. Let us assume 1,000 hours to become proficient.

In a year I am a third of the way. In three years I am there.

But 10,000 hours, that is 30 years!

I write three hours a day. That brings it down to 10 years.

Write ten hours a day. Now down to three years. But ten hours a day, that is a lot of hours.

OK, let us try five hours. Manageable. Now six years. Not too bad.

The Beatles changed the face of music. Paul McCartney, as we saw with the Diamond Jubilee Concert, is still a great rock n roller.

The Beatles were not an overnight success. They played the clubs. They did not play the same old number night after night. If they had they would have been bored, the club empty and they out of a job. It is estimated they played more than 10,000 hours before their first hit.

In Hamburg they were playing eight hours a night for seven days a week! When you play for this length of time, you do not just churn out the same old numbers like clockwork puppets, as I have seen performers in hotels who you could set your watch by depending upon what they are playing, you improvise, you have a vast repertoire.

The Beatles put in 106 nights, five hours or more per night on their first tour in Hamburg, on their second trip 92 nights, their third trip 48 nights, plus two more Hamburg gigs. In total 270 nights in two and a half years. By the time of their first chart success in 1964, they had performed an estimated 1200 times, something most performers do not achieve in their entire career.

Paul McCartney still likes to takes to the road and considers himself to be a rock n roll performer. His classic performance some years back in Moscow live in Red Square.

Thus the ability to play is important, practice improves that ability.

By all means pick up a guitar and learnt to play a favourite piece. But then play around with it.

Jimi Hendrix did not get to where he was by playing set musical pieces, by sounding like everyone else.

If you are in an orchestra, not everyone gets to play like Hendrix. But no two performances are the same, no two conductors interpret a piece in the same way.

Marks on sheet music are waiting to be turned into music.

Music is the shaping of sound.

That is what Imogen Heap does. Listen to her improvisation on a piano for Earth Hour.

It is what Kimbra does when she loops her vocals, similarly with Steve Lawson doing amazing things looping a bass, or Zoe Keating with a cello.

Writers need a vocabulary. What they do not need is being told how to write. I can always tell when they are the product of a writing school, their writing is wooden, encased in a straitjacket.

Without a vocabulary, you cannot express what you wish to say, but you have to have something to say, a story that needs to get out.

Bland hype will sell to people who do not like music. On the other hand there are people who are technically proficient but their music lacks soul.

Watch someone pick up a guitar. They do not repeat a guitar lesson, they coax a sound out of it. They do it without thinking

My grandfather was a musician. He could not sit still. He would be tapping out a rhythm.

I have never been a fan of Gary Barlow. Someone with zilch talent in a pathetic boy band. That was until I saw him search the world for musical talent. He was a model of humility before some of the musicians he met. Girls singing in a school, drummers who made music out of what they found on a gigantic rubbish dump.

Few people make money out of music. It is a myth peddled by crap TV programmes like X Factor, that dangle record contracts and mega-stardom before gullible idiots. It is a myth peddled by music colleges and courses who want bums on seats. A cheap con trick that too many fall for.

Lady Gaga, Jessie J, Amy Winehouse, the originals are bad enough, why would anyone wish to debase themselves to imitate them? Walk past the bars in Protaras full of drunk English and when it is not karaoke it will be an awful clone act. One bar had posted up, X Factor finalist! Assuming they have some talent as performers, then by all means do covers, but make them your own.

There is a lovely album by Lobelia called Beautifully Undone, covers she makes her own.

A day job as a musician may pay, but you may not enjoy it. You may be better off working in a bookshop as the day job and playing the music you love at night.

Charles Ives had a day job as an insurance broker. His night job was writing music.

Learn to play music because it is a fun thing to do, not because it will give you a career. If you do it for the latter, you will end up bitter and disappointed.

In the High Street in Guildford, I often find a guy called Neil playing. He is actually quite good. I doubt he earns much money doing this, but he does it because he enjoys it. Sit in the street and talk to him, as I often have, and you will learn he has his own band and he will tell you where and when they are next playing.

Next to North Camp Station, on the Reading-Guildford line, is the Old Ford. Turn up Tuesday night and you will find a group of musicians under the name Jon’s Jam playing into the early hours of the morning. They just turn up and play. And they are good.

An absolute must listen to is the ramblings of Steve Lawson and Andrew Dubber on the future of musicianship. I would embed their talk, but have yet to figure out how.

Un-Convention Caracas

May 1, 2012
The Caracas crew in the barrio - Andrew Dubber

The Caracas crew in the barrio - Andrew Dubber

I used to go to BeyondTV International Film Festival in Wales.

The film festival was hosted annually by Undercurrents from 2000-2008. Sadly it has been put on hold since 2008.

One year they showed a really weird festival, I think it was in Amsterdam.

The video diary Andrew Dubber has kept of Un-Convention in Caracas reminds me of that weird festival, maybe it was Un-Convention, on the other hand it could be Andrew Dubber seeking out the weird.

The purpose of BeyondTV, was to encourage people to go out with a video camera and document the world around them.

Andrew Dubber is an academic, author, public speaker, blogger, music reviewer, radio and music industry consultant, whisky writer, podcaster, record collector, DJ, broadcaster and record producer. He is Reader in Music Industries Innovation at Birmingham City University, an advisor to Bandcamp and Planzai, manages half a dozen blogs, and is the founder of New Music Strategies – a pan-European music think tank and strategy group.

His book Music in the Digital Age is a must read! And you can read it on-line for free!

Un-Convention is a series of music events aimed specifically at the grass roots of the industry, the goal of Un-Convention is to bring together like minded individuals to discuss the future of independent music.

What follows is a seven-day video diary. The commentary is by Andrew Dubber, not me.


Un-Convention Caracas highlights: day 1

I’ve started going through the hundreds of video clips that I took in Venezuela last week, and have started editing them down to a manageable size for general consumption. Here’s the first video from our first day in Caracas.

I’m also going to (eventually) upload all of the unedited videos so you can get Jez’s full narrative of events, and I’ll post that on the Dubber and Jez blog, where we keep a record of all our international adventures — but this is a bit more manageable.

This video is a 3-minute edited highlights package from day one, in which we went to a barrio in El Valle, met some rappers, did some interviews, appeared in a music video, listened to music in the street, danced, watched motorcycle tricks (some of us even got involved), and stayed up past our bedtimes. The usual, in other words.

Un-Convention Caracas highlights: day 2

Adventures in Venezuela continued… in which we go up a mountain in an unsafe vehicle, hang out in unsafe places, have accidents, and present a danger to ourselves and others, all in the name of grassroots and independent music.

Un-Convention Caracas highlights: day 3

In which we share an unusual breakfast, Jez and Ruth present at a bi-lingual press conference, Alex explains Cameraboy Will’s patented two-step ‘Vengabus then text’ dating technique, and we witness the strict discipline of the Tiuna el Fuerte hip hop school.

Un-Convention Caracas highlights: day 4

The start of Un-Convention itself. I get to do a bit of an introduction, Jez has something in his throat, there is music and dancing (of varying levels of skill and complexity), we get to see a model of what Tiuna el Fuerte will eventually look like… and I get to be on the telly.

Un-Convention Caracas highlights: day 5

Time for Jez and I to take a turn on a panel – this time about Digital Archives. We also shared the session with Buddy & Christian, the brothers from Symbiz, whom we quickly got to know and like. Our panel was flooded in, so we had to keep talking for an extra hour; Symbiz cut a track and made a video in an afternoon, after which they hosted a workshop – then came back to our hotel room for a beer and to record an ambient experimental piece using our freakish bathroom taps.

The full Symbiz workshop is online here: [Part 1] [Part 2]

Un-Convention Caracas highlights: day 6

In which Jez loses control of the lower half of his body, I use all my Spanish, Symbiz reveal their Machiavellian plans, a community newspaper quizzes us on political philosophy for over an hour, we get invited to a Caribbean island paradise, and then we dance.

Un-Convention Caracas highlights: day 7

Our last day at Un-Convention – and it’s spent in Petare, known as the most dangerous barrio in Venezuela. We went there to pay tribute to a murdered political activist from the neighbourhood, watch basketball, listen to a performance by Symbiz, visit the place of work and the home of a community worker (with an incredible view) – and then it was back to Tiuna el Fuerte for the grande finale.

Symbiz were back on the stage and put on a killer of a last show, and then we were invited up to the stage to celebrate Un-Convention. What a fantastic way to finish.

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