Ghetto Ruff wizes up

After many years, Ghetto Ruff has wized up. Many years ago, I signed them up to a digital distribution deal on Calabash Music. For many years Calabash was the only place outside of South Africa anyone could “legally” get their GREAT music. Now, only a short time after their music has “disappeared” from Calabash (Mondomix has not yet picked up the license), they have appeared on eMusic. Excellent. 3 albums up, many many more to come.


I just read this post by Cory Doctorow, which I think has some great ideas for musicians. He is taking some of his ideas from extensions of ideas artists have had (he mentions NIN), but I think in the greater clamor now for micropayments, it is also worth examining the idea of macropayments, as part of a general philosophy/idea about how to go about getting paid for your work. The whole post is worth reading, so click thru, but some choice pieces:

“I don’t care about making sure that everyone who gets a copy of my books pays me for them — what I care about is ensuring that the everyone who would pay me decent money for a book has the opportunity to do so.

“In an ideal world, people without a lot of discretionary income are given the electronic edition (which costs [nearly] nothing to distribute) for free. They act like the breezes that loft the dandelion seeds — they go around, telling people about the book and its merits. In this regard, they’re better than random breezes, for they undertake a directed distribution of the book, seeking to bring it to the attention of people who are likely to have a positive response to it.

“Once the book lands in the hands of someone who does have discretionary income, that person is given a multitude of opportunities to engage in a commercial transaction with the writer and her publisher.

“Taking someone’s money is expensive. It incurs transaction and bookkeeping costs and it incurs emotional and social costs. Micropayments have historically focused on eliminating the cash overheads while ignoring the intangible costs. For a writer whose career might span decades and involve hundreds of thousands of readers, these costs cannot be ignored.”

Memo to Majors: Stop Being Stupid (Chapter 3567)

The most concise analysis of how the major labels are being stupid by demanding YouTube’s latest campaign of silence is up on Mashable. The whole way you try to find ways to monetize your stuff is by figuring out what people are doing and monetizing that, not by totally killing the way people are already doing stuff and trying to make them do something else. Exhibit 1: Napster.

I just can’t believe that the labels expect consumers to sit by and wait during their monumental game of chicken with the rest of the internet world. How long will they insist on being idiots? Maybe as long as artists are stuck on the labels?

As a corrallary to that point – Memo To Artists: DIY, Don’t get stuck on a label. Control your own work on all fronts.

Tag & Title Well

As I often tell my clients, you must pay attention to your mp3 (or other digital music file format) tagging and titling. As this post mentions, tags & titles on videos are becoming more and more used by search enginges, and I think/know that search for music will also use these things. So in addition to making sure your metadata is correct (ie – your name & the song name are correctly spelled), you should also tag your music files with keywords in the comments section (and basically anywhere else in the file that is appropriate). As always with these things, don’t overdo it, and be accurate and consistent.

CoachBaby Update/General Thoughts

Wow.  So it has been a crazy bunch of weeks. I had of course intended to blog about my sessions with Steve, but life got in my way. . . A little recap/peek into my world the past couple months:

October 9 – First coaching session with Steve. Purchase & Sale agreement on a condo completed by me & my wife and the sellers of our condo

October 15 – second coaching session

October 20 – third coaching session

October 30 – fourth coaching session

November 4 – OBAMA!!

November 6 – fifth coaching session. My grandmother has her first (and last) chemo session

— several visits to buffalo (home of my grandmother), a work trip to paris —

November 26 – my grandmother passes

December 12 – sixth coaching session

December 20 – seventh coaching session

Dec 22 – we close on our condo!

Dec 23 – eighth coaching session

Needless to say, this has been a time where I’ve not been as focused on my coaching and consulting projects as in other points in my life. It has also been a time of great thankfulness, for both the large things like the presence of grandparents in my life for so long and the lessons they taught me, to the “smaller” things – like the compassion, humanity, and understanding of Steve, Derek, and everyone else in my professional life. I certainly could not have made it through these past months without the small pieces of love that have been shared with me by all around me. For that, I thank you all.

Now I have to get back to all of you who have been waiting patiently for me to pick up new clients and projects, and move forward. We have passed an ancestor on to another place, we have a house, and we have been through quite a bit of learning on many many fronts. I’ll gather strength and wisdom where I can, and I wish you all peace and abundant blessings in this holiday season and throughout 2009. May the light of the world shine through you all.

CoachBaby Session #1

Just got off the phone with Steve Denyes, the musician I’m working with in Derek Sivers new program, which I’m calling (without any authorization at all) CoachBaby. 😉

Great talk with him today, just getting the lay of the land of his music, his business, and where he wants to go with it. Also laying out what I do, and hopefully figuring out where I can help him improve his business. He has a bunch of great stuff already lined up, the base on which I think he can build an even better business. ~3000 families on his mailing list, ~300 live shows a year, ~10,000 units sold (physical) in the last 5 years. Pretty good numbers I think, and ones that certainly can be pushed up higher with some smart work.

Next week we’re going to dig into a little “competitive” analysis, some new media ideas, and ideas on turning his mailing list/fan base into worker bees for him. Fun stuff! And soon you’ll be able to hear us chatting away on mp3.

CoachingBaby thoughts

Some thoughts on this coaching program experiment Derek Sivers is running:

  • I’m so excited by the thought of this happening, being recorded, spread around the world, and commented upon – such an opportunity for learning (on my part), critique, confirmation, and also the opportunity to move the independent artist forward – to further drive the self-driven.
  • How easy some folks think it is to “make it”
  • How hard some folks think it is to “make it”
  • The physical body has become part of the marketing of many many artists portfolio. . .and I’m unsure of what i think about that.
  • The “dream” still lives. . .
  • How many people still don’t realize how fundamentally the music industry has changed, and how that both opens up new opportunities and at the same time closes old paths.
  • How although the music industry has fundamentally changed, some gatekeepers remain the same, but the keys to their gates have also changed.
  • How much I think I can help artists through even one or two coaching sessions, just orienting/re-orienting them to the new industry, new realities, etc.
  • Great line: “Coaching is a science. Music is an art. If the business scientist in you can develop the business artist in me, then we can bridge the divide between art and science. I can think of no project more worthy.”
  • Marketing Music is unlike marketing anything else in the world. Passions, emotions, and feelings are involved to such a deep and unconscious level that rational thoughts, and (even irrational) sales-pitches may not be enough.

picking a “coachee”

wowza, this will be a quick, but a fun update. a few weeks ago, Derek Sivers approached me (via email and this blog’s comments) to participate in a coaching trial he is running. the deal is this – i coach someone for 8 weeks, we record the conversations, and post them online for other folks to learn from. so now i’m in the process of sifting through >470 coaching applications. somewhat tedious, but very interesting, and always amazing to see the passion that independent artists bring to their life and world.

thankfully, derek extended the deadline from tonight until tuesday, so i can actually read more of these applications and think about which “coachee” i think i can provide the best experience for, and from whom i can learn more about myself as a coach. stay tuned. . . i’ll be blogging this experience as well as recording it.

Coaching, Marketing & More

I was both psyched, envious, and motivated to see this page a few weeks ago. If you don’t want to click thru, basically, this is the home page of Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby. As you might know, he recently sold CD Baby to DiscMakers, which, depending on your perspective is a good/bad/insane/etc thing. Anyway, he is offering his services as a Music Career Coach, Music Marketer, and generally as a helper of musicians. Exactly what I do!

I was psyched to see this because his being in this space helps me crystalize my thoughts around what I’m doing, what I want to build towards, and what is possible. It also introduces the concepts of what I’m doing to a larger audience, so that I don’t have to spend hours or days explaining what I do and why it is valuable.

I was envious because he has this all laid out, and has a huge obvious client base. That, and he just sold his company, so that he can take the time to build up a client base without having to give up a day job, or take a huge financial leap.

And finally, I was motivated. Motivated to overhaul my site, to clarify my work, to refine my client base, and to keep doing this work I’m doing. I had been thrown in a bit of a tailspin a while back after someone told me that ideas aren’t valuable, and that people won’t pay for just ideas. However, I know this to not be true, and know that what I’m doing is more than just ideas – it is about clarifying ideas, about choosing projects, about making intelligent business that are also integrity-filled artistic decisions, and so much more. Reading Derek’s page, and then meeting with the father of a friend locally who does this work internationally has sharpened and fed this motivation.

So watch out, a creative catalyzer has just been fired up even higher and brighter than before!


It seems most of my “posts” are conference specific. . .

This was my second APAP, and by far my most productive conference of any sort. New connections were made, deeper roots were established with other connections, and some interesting new clients approached me for work. It is a pleasure to be engaging in talks with these people, for sure, no matter the outcome. It is such an exciting time for music, for those with new ideas, and for those willing to take risks.

If we missed talking at APAP about your project, please get in touch via any of the social networks or, as always, at erich.ludwig [at] gmail dot com