Sunday, November 11, 2018

New Music and the Story of the Song Lyrics

New music stay tuned
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Greetings

I thought it was time for an update on what's going on, as Marvin Gaye and Delroy Wilson would say.

Well, Dingazz Music released the song 'One' in October which is a collaboration with Jackie Scales a vocalist from the US. I wanted a bit of an urban feel to the song and Jackie's singing style was what I was looking for. If you haven't heard it the theme is that we can all make a difference 'it only needs one to make a stand'.  You can hear it here.


If you follow my music you know that my songs normally have a message. Not an in your face message, that's not my style, but more in the way of ' have a think about what I just said'. Anyway, the next single is in production and is another collaboration.  

The last two singles have been collaborations as I wanted them to have someone else's spin on the lyrics. Also, to have a different dynamic in the vocal. For me, it just adds to the creative content of the song. However, this time I am collaborating with a Jamaican vocalist and musician with great talent. 

I was trying to decide on the vocal style for this song and had a few vocalists in mind when I came across a couple of his demos. His style suited the song so we made contact and went from there. As part of the pre-release promo, I'll be doing an interview with him so keep following this blog. You'll also be the first to see a preview of the video. Hopefully, to be added to your YouTube music playlist 🤞.

The song is a roots reggae track and the working title is 'Every Decision'. I originally wrote the song lyrics in 2014 but I was never satisfied with the verses and the storytelling. So, I moved on, it was in my list of songs and I came back to it every now and then. However, I liked the chorus and wanted to finish it so the verses have been re-written and it's pretty much a new song. If you are a songwriter you will understand the struggle with song lyrics, if not, this is a little insight into my creative process.

The song idea really came from some the dramatic events that were occurring at the time worldwide like terrorist attacks, mass shootings and air crashes. In all these events you would always hear a comment from someone who made a decision or circumstance dictated an alternative action which meant they avoided the event. This led me to the first line of the Chorus:

"Every decision that I make still shapes my destiny"

 From that one line came the rest of the chorus. I then just had to write the verses and that is where the struggle started.

The song is not melancholy, in fact, its mid-tempo with a hook and is more about taking control of life and making the most of it. The last line of the chorus is:

"Live today like it's the only day I'll see how life turns out for me" 

So that's the story of the song lyrics. I am really looking forward to finally getting the song out there. I feel it is a message worth telling. More details in upcoming posts. 
Here's to more music and new music.

Bless
Dingazz


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Is Dub Music the New EDM ?


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Greetings

Dub music is one of the great reggae inventions believed to be created by legendary Jamaican innovator and mixing engineer Osbourne Ruddock better known as 'King Tubby' in the late 60's. With the early reggae singles (this is the time of vinyl) it was common not to have a 'B side'. Instead, there would be a 'Version', which, was basically an instrumental version of the vocal A side.

dub visual in red gold and green


These early innovators took these instrumentals and 'remixed' them using whatever effects were available at the time, mainly reverb and decay or 'Echo'. With the drum and bass centre stage small extracts of the vocals were then mixed in. In these early days of Dub the mixing engineer was the creative force. They were eventually held in as high or greater esteem than the singer or composer.

Dub music become a reggae sub-genre in its own right with albums of roots reggae Dub only tracks created by sound engineers and producers, like the legendary Lee Scratch Perry, King Jammy and Errol Thompson. This creation of mainly instrumental music by sound engineers and producers spawned many similar music genres that exist today. This early remixing was the forerunner to music genres such as hip hop, trance, techno and EDM.

This leads me on to the question 'Is Dub Music the New EDM'? What I mean by this is that dub as a sub genre of reggae would be considered niche and has its core following in sound system culture. EDM (Electronic Dance Music) has moved into the mainstream with a huge following and events like SEMF (Stuttgart Electronic Music Festival) where tens of thousands of followers attend.

The popularity of electronic music has meant that dub music has attracted followers who may not have come via the reggae route. The dub reggae producers have not been slow to recognize the opportunity available and there has been a move towards producing tracks with a danceable tempo. One of the great sound system owners and producers, Jah Shaka, has been doing this for years and he is now in high demand all over the world. So, is dub music finally reaping the rewards from its innovations to reach the popularity of its derivatives like EDM music?

Well in Europe, in particular, dub music festivals are springing up. One of the best was a great festival held over the Easter period in Bigastro, Alicante, Spain, The International Dub Gathering dedicated specifically to dub music and  the sound system culture. It was a three day event and included sound systems from Europe, UK and Jamaica. including Jah Shaka, Channel One, GreenLight, Mafia & Fluxy and Blackboard Jungle to name a few.

dub festival


I was there on day three of the festival and it seemed very well organized, which was to be expected, as the organizers included the Rototom reggae festival team. Thousands of dub lovers attended with the 2018 edition being its third year. You could move around freely listening and dancing to the 'riddims' played by different sound systems.

For me this was great to see. A form of music created nearly fifty years ago that gave birth to other music genres, finally coming into its own on a global scale. Long may it continue.
King Tubby would be truly proud of his creation.

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Friday, November 2, 2018

Robert Nesta Marley (6 February 1945 – 11 May 1981)


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Greetings

So much has already been written about Bob Marley. Thirty six years after his death his influence still lives on all over the world. Personally, he has had the greatest influence on my musical journey for many reasons. I clearly remember when Bob Marley got shot seeing this as a news item on the BBC news. It was at that moment that I realized what a global star Bob Marley had become.


As with many great people their time in this world can only be put in context when they are gone. The influence Bob Marley had on reggae cannot be understated and even now there is no one artist who can claim to pick up the mantle he left and take reggae to new heights.


One of my early memories of Bob Marley, which really sealed his greatness in my eyes, was seeing Bob Marley on the main news bulletin. Back then, a black man with dreadlocks on the news was less frequent than a lunar eclipse. Anyway, the main impact he left on me was the power of music. He proved that music really can change things, it is some thing that can bring the most diverse personalities together. It can be a banner to focus the mind as we saw in the UK with the 'BandAid' concerts. This is something that is always at the back of my mind when I am songwriting. The song isn't just words it is creative energy that can grow and lead to change on a personal level or any other level.

In 2016 Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature. It was awarded to Dylan for "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition". There's no doubt that for 50 years Dylan has been writing songs that include socially conscious topics. However, if the award was to be based on conscious lyrics, then, I am sure that Bob Marley would be right up there.

Although, he is no longer with us physically Bob Marley's words of wisdom are constantly quoted on the internet and are still a source of inspiration. One thing this all proves is the power that music has to touch people and from this feeling can come forth action. 





When I review the news with the focus on the negative stuff going on in the world. It reminds me of my formative years, similar to now, a lot of focus on division. Then reggae was a voice for positive energy and Bob Marley was at his peak and reggae was spreading all over the world.

It is different now reggae has many sub-genres, Dancehall, Lovers Rock, Roots & Culture, Dub etc. But the time has come for us reggae songwriters, musicians and producers to put even more focus on sending positive messages, no matter how hard it is to get exposure for the music. With the help of listeners, fans and like-minded people we can succeed.

Thank you Bob Marley for the enlightenment, you live on in the songs of peace, love and reggae. As you once said "Love the life you live and live the life you love"

Bless







Saturday, October 27, 2018

Music Promotion Paid or Organic Traffic

music promotion pain or organic traffic blog post
Greetings

Being an indie artist can be an enlightening experience but sometimes delusional.  Click to Tweet

To succeed we definitely need real self belief. It takes a lot to put so much into a creation and then put it out there to be praised, criticized or worst of all ignored. I know when I release a track I want to see it reach the four corners of the world ( just a metaphor, round, flat, square earth is for another blog) . We all have a goal for our creative work that is not always reached, but one thing I try to remember as an indie is the following quote.

quote indie artist music promotion



However, in trying to meet that goal there are options when it comes to music promotion and in this blog post I will discuss some of these.


Music Promotion Paid or Organic Traffic


Paid (non-organic) or pure organic traffic what does this mean?


  • Paid traffic is when you have decided to pay for your creative work to be boosted (this may be to real or fake listeners) 
  • Paid organic traffic is when you have decided to pay for your creative work to be boosted and it becomes visible directly to potential fans who may then engage.
  • Organic traffic is where  consumers of music happen across your work on their usual platforms without any direct prompting which leads to some sort of engagement e.g. play, like, comment.

Which of these options you choose to pursue depends on your objectives and where you are on your marketing timeline. So let's take a look at some of these.

Early Plays and Likes


Personally, I have made a decision on this topic, which I'll come to below, due to my early experiences promoting my tracks. I remember for my early singles looking at the Soundcloud plays and not being happy with the numbers. Then thinking, I'll give the song a boost with some paid plays which then made the Soundcloud plays look better. But my objective was to grow real fans so I knew I was only deluding myself. I have read some blogs where they say having a base number of plays then helps organic growth, this may be true in some cases, but personally, I can't confirm this. In the end your stats become meaningless.

This is the same for non-organic paid likes, other than trying to give an impression of fan engagement to others, they offer no real insight.

However, there us definitely a place for boosting plays but, I now only use paid organic services. Then at least I can get some insight from any engagement and use this going forward. 

Increasing Reach 


music promotion visual

Paid Advertising Services


As you know there are many social media platforms out there enticing us to use their services and spend money advertising our product. I first used paid advertising on Google Ads, Facebook and Twitter Ads to generally try and increase brand awareness. For me, due to a limited budget, I didn't see any real gains. Now I use them for specific projects or events as I think this is the best use of my funds as the advertising is targeted. This is a matter of judgement and depends on your status, marketing budget and fanbase. 

Paying to gain reach, when you have a product to sell, is something that, I believe, is going to become standard on  many platforms. Facebook, in particular, has already changed it's algorithm to make it difficult  for 'pages' to have any worthwhile reach without 'boosting' a post. At the end of the day this something we cannot get away from unless we pursue pure organic traffic, which I will get to in a moment.

Engage Music Promotion Services

Depending on your expertise technically and / or in using music promotion apps or platforms, you may feel that it is more effective to engage marketing professionals. There are many music promotion services out there so do your research. They need to be offering something more than ' I have 1 million followers'. So what! None of them may like your music (worst case scenario 🙂). So here are some things to look out for:


  • Check out their websites ( if these don't look professional, need I say more)
  • What are the artist reviews saying, are there any independent reviews.
  • What are they offering other than tweeting, posting to their followers. For example, interviews, blog or magazine placement, playlisting etc.
  • Are any placements permanent.
  • What platforms will their music promotion cover
  • What is their reach, national or global and where is their main catchment/
  • Can they offer targeted promotion for your genre
  • Is the music promotion campaign organic (Important!)

These are all points you need answers to before you invest your hard earned cash. This will help maximize your return on investment (see the side bar for useful music promotion services or click this link Music Promotion


Radio Airplay

This is still an important outlet for our music and there is nothing quite like hearing your song on the radio. You can cold call radio stations or pay for airplay. You may want to read an earlier blog post specifically on radio airplay for more information on these options. Radio Airplay


Generating Organic Traffic


Social Media

This is something that is an ongoing learning experience as everyday, if you search the internet, there are tips on how best to generate organic traffic. The thing is, as I have stated before, we indies have to wear many hats, only one of which is the marketing hat. So there is only so much time we can spend on music promotion, no matter how important it is, so we have to make the best use of this time. Or get someone else to do it.

However, generating organic traffic is probably already part of your routine, the success of which, usually depends on how much effort you put in. There are some main areas of focus that seem to be aligned among commentators, including myself.


  • Identify Key Influencers in Your Niche. These tend to have many followers and this asset can be used to increase your own following. There are apps out there that enable you to follow the followers of your key influencers e.g. Tweetdeck. As you are in the same niche a percentage of these will follow you back and continue to engage.
  • Join Groups or Forums in Your Niche. If you are part of a larger group with the same interests, then it is likely that what you have to offer will be of interest to at least some members of the group.
  • Be Active on Social Media. In order for the actions taken in the above points to be effective you need to be active. By this I mean you need to comment and like on the posts of influencers and fellow group or forum members. Be seen and contribute, this raises your profile and standing.
  • Add Value.  This means giving value and quality. A comment to a video of 'Awesome' doesn't add value and can appear to be 'bot' driven. Give a meaningful contribution like ' I liked the way the vocals added a twist to the solid rhythm track. Great production'. Add value rather than sell. This will lead to curiosity about your channel, blog or website.
  • Call to Action. On your own platform, whether this be a Facebook page, blog or website, this is where you should shout out loud your call to action. As the saying goes 'Don't ask don't get'. Make sure visitors have and can see a clear request from you whether this is to buy your song, like the page, visit another of your sites. This also works well when adding value by, maybe, offering something free in exchange for taking the action.

The above points are activities that can be done without incurring any costs, all you need is time and resources. This can work just as well or even better than paid services.


The Personal Touch

The relationship between artist and listener / fan has changed over the last decade. Where once the main contribution of a fan to the artist was the purchase of singles and albums we all know that with the advent of streaming technology an artist can't just rely on these sales (I also cover this in another blog post Free downloads! Is this the future? ) . However, engaging more with your fanbase can add so much more to your music promotion campaign by getting music promotion free from your fans.

  • Competitions By creating a competition  around a song or album you create a buzz that will be shared between friends especially if you can make this based around an image or video. For example,  an image taken at gig with a caption competition or best photo with the band logo t-shirt or best fan cover version of your song. This is social media in action driven by your fans.
  • Engagement in the Songwriting or Production Process. This can be anything from naming the title of the song, including a line in the song provided by a fan, doing a couple of mixes and getting feedback on the most popular version. Fans like to share and the more they share the more buzz that is created.
  • Create an Event There are concert and event apps including Facebook where you can publicize upcoming gigs or an album launch. This gives you the chance to offer giveaways to top fans but also lets your fans start sharing the event and creating a buzz.

Obviously, the above depends on the size of your fanbase, but the personal touch is also a great way to increase your fanbase. In fact, a smaller fanbase allows you to spend more time offering your top fans the insight they are looking for.

Music promotion whether paid or purely organic has its biggest impact when the product, your creative work, is the best you can make it with the resources you have. So at the end of the day creativity has to come first and remain something you enjoy and are proud of. Otherwise, you won't have the drive for all the other stuff. 




Sunday, October 21, 2018

FREE Downloads! Is this the Future?

example of the music service

Greetings

Free music downloads is this where the music industry is heading. As Sam Cooke once sung 'A Change is Gonna Come'. The music industry is unrecognizable from 30 years ago as technology has been a catalyst for change, an enabler. As with all change there are those that fight it and those that embrace it. However, history has shown that those that embrace change are likely to benefit from the upheaval and as creators of music, I believe this is the best path to follow. I'll explain my reasoning in a minute.

As I said above technology has been an enabler and not just from a music production perspective. When I first got into the industry the executive power, the makers and breakers, was in the hands of the few. This included

a) How business was conducted
b) In what form music was produced
c) Where you could listen to it.

Because of this many signed artists did not benefit as they should have also talented creators of music were excluded and were just not visible. Fans could not get access to the music or their heroes as much as they would like and there wasn't a mechanism for change. So the industry model was, the labels made the stars and controlled their revenue streams, the fans hear only what the labels put out and pay for the privilege.

As one of the reggae greats Delroy Wilson sung ' Better Must Come' and I think it did and will continue doing so. Why? Technology and knowledge has advanced at a rate that meant music production and music broadcasting was within the reach of many (better). Music creators could communicate directly with those that held the purse strings, the fans (better). Now the next point is where fight change or embrace it comes in. Because of technological innovation fans had options around where they could listen to music and whether they wanted a physical representation of the music (maybe not so better). Historically, this was the main way that fans showed their appreciation to the artist, buying the single or the album.

example of future direction

Those that monitor music trends seem to suggest that music downloads are on a downward spiral. However, as creators of music let's embrace it. So the fans may want free music downloads, does that mean we are all doomed? I don't think so. 

There is an insatiable desire for new music and those of you with a strong fanbase know those fans want more and more importantly are willing to HELP you deliver more music to them. Be this by paying to go to your gigs, buying merchandise, crowd funding your new project, market your songs (social media sharing), paying for personalized productions, meet and greet etc.

The power balance has shifted and everyone is trying to keep up with the trends in music production and promotion. The time when buying the artist's single or album as the main contribution by the fans to the artist's success is over. Fans are still with us we just have to embrace their needs, where we can, as well as the change that they drive. Then 'Better Must Come'.

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

How To Get Radio Airplay


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Greetings

How to get radio airplay? I can tell you that was the first question on my mind when I was near to finalizing the production of my first single. This is where belief in your creation can waver, when your rational mind starts throwing doubt about:


"there are millions of songs out there", 
"I'm competing against established stars", 
" the DJs don't know who I am".


This is when you need to hold firm and BELIEVE.

"Hey there are thousands of radio stations out there"
"There are radio stations specializing in new indie music"
"I've come this far I can't stop now"

Once you are at this point you are ready to roll.

                                                                      ~~~oOo~~~

How to Get Radio Airplay


Let's start with the main radio station types out there.
  • There are the big national and international stations whose playlists are pretty much dictated by their big clients
  • Other FM stations that my be monitored by the charting companies
  • FM stations un-monitored
  • Internet Radio stations monitored / un-monitored
  • College Radio
  • Community Radio
So right away we can see there is no need for reliance on the big stations to get exposure initially. So, how to get radio airplay depends on your objective and your status. In this blog I am going to assume 1) you are not already a superstar and that most of the marketing effort is being carried out by the artist/band 2) the main objective is to just get airplay.

The Cold Call


This is always an option and I found that a two pronged approach is best for efficiency rather than doing everything yourself.  As with ALL marketing some things you can do cost nothing other things need you to invest some cash.
As an Indie I did not have time to collate and send out mass emails to hundreds of radio stations who probably have spam filters on. You have to do a bit of research, but I start out with a campaign with one of the music promotion service companies out there. This does not cost an arm and a leg and the better ones will usual include a mail shot to hundreds of DJs and radio stations. This leaves time to do some specific and more personal cold calling to radio stations. This will be to either niche radio stations that I know about or radio stations that I know play my genre. This makes it easier to be relevant when you make contact.

Not all stations have submission pages. For example, if you do an internet search for, say, 'submit music' a lot of stations may not come up as a 'hit'. I found an alternative approach more useful which was to use Twitter. Do a search on Twitter for radio stations in your genre and 'follow' them. Then, when you have your marketing hat on you now have a 'database' to start from.

Time is precious, so this approach enables you to a) see if there is any activity on Twitter (when last did they tweet, no activity for months would put them way down on my list). Also, there will usually be a link to their website on their profile. From there you can see if they have submission or contact details. In many cases it is just a contact / message page. But don't let this stop you as I have had success from just sending a message. Remember there is competition for good new music.

TIP:
I use links in my messages not attachments as this is quicker for sending messages and easier for the recipient to preview and download if interested. Use whatever cloud based storage is appropriate e.g. Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. These should be links to, the song, cover art, website if available. If you have these links on a document, then. it is easy to cut and paste these into the messages.

Paid Radio Airplay


This is another way to get radio airplay and using this option will depend on your budget, objectives and timelines. It does work however, this can be fraught with danger. Not physical, but the spend my hard earned money with nothing in return type of danger, as I have found to my cost. This option doesn't need to blow the marketing budget. The services / stations are actively looking for Indie submissions and will have several promotion packages available one likely to suit your budget..

Many services advertise radio spins, radio promo, guaranteed radio airplay but there is an element of trust when procuring these services as there are those who are quite willing to take your money for minimal or no return. At the same time, there are some really good services out there and below are the things I look for in order to reduce the reliance on trust. If you can tick the boxes on most of these, then, it's a good start in ensuring you will receive the service you expect.
  • Do they have a twitter @handle
  • Have they posted recently? When was the last time they tweeted
  • Do they offer to tag you in a post when the song is playing (check their posts for other artists)
  • Will they actively promote / mention your song? (check their Twitter and Instagram feed for other artists)
  • Do they offer you the schedule for the spins? (which show, how many times a day).
  • Do they mention the artist or just include the song on rotation? (this depends on what exposure you are looking for)
  • Are their shows available for download e.g. on their website, Mixcloud, Spreaker etc?
  • Do they offer proof of delivery?
  • Are the reviews good? What are other artists / producers saying? (it's unlikely you will be the first to use them)
I am not saying that everything listed above must be in place but, in my experience, the best services will have a tick against most of the above.

Check out these examples ( I have no stake in these services or receive any remuneration from them, only that I have used them successfully for my genre).



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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

What's Space Got to Do With Digital Music Distribution


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Greetings

Well, I'm not talking about the last frontier.  While doing a bit of an audit on the digital music distribution platforms that my songs are on, I realised I couldn't find all my tracks on my artist page. I did a search of the missing tracks and they were there on the stores. So what was going on? 

At first I thought this was a mess up by the store. So I started comparing the major platforms, iTunes, Amazon , Spotify and Deezer. Except Spotify, they all had the songs on a separate artist page. So, then I logged into my account with the distributor and looked at the release details for each track. When I looked closely at the track details there was a subtle difference some had 'Miss Tun Pickney' and others 'MissTun Pickney'. One with a space between 'Miss' and 'Tun' the other without. Just a missing space but what problems it created!

MP3 Download-Artist Page
Miss Tun Pickney Artist page
I contacted the distributor and asked them to rectify this as the artist page was wrong for four tracks and I could not believe that I would have made the same typo four times. However, they begged to differ and made it clear that what was done was done and that I only had two options, explained below.

I still do not believe that I made that error four times and looking back at the release process it really was a check the details, click the send button and that's it. Now I know the onus is on the artist to get the details right but, it would have been nice to have a 'Are you really really sure' pop up window  like they have on most apps when you are going to delete something.Anyway, we agreed to disagree, though I knew that I only had the two options I was given. However, this didn't stop me from deciding to change to a different distribution company.

The process with this new distributor was much more robust. You entered the track details and clicked send as usual but, this was just an interim step. You then received an email confirming your wish to release the track with a request to double check the release details. Finally, you received a final email asking for you to approve the track for release with another request to check the details. For me, this was a much more artist friendly approach.


So what Are the options to Fix an Artist Page?

A. Contact each store individually. This as you can imagine would be a nightmare unless you only distributed your song to a small number of stores. Even then, unless, they have Artist services e.g. Spotify for Artists, it is difficult to get a response.

B. Take down the song and distribute again.  This means cancelling the distribution with your distribution company and creating another distribution (another fee and UPC). The stores take down the original entry and add the new entry. 

I tried A. with Apple Music and they sorted it. But I had subscribed to their beta Apple for Artists. So contacting them was easier. In the end option B. was easier for me. I was told that  the streaming stats would be lost. But I found that the history continued on the new distribution, in the case of Spotify anyway. But it was a lesson learnt. I now TRIPLE CHECK, CHECK and CHECK AGAIN all the song details before clicking that final approval button.

Keep feeling the vibe
Dingazz