Category: Business

3 Best Practices for Digital Distribution & Audience Building in an Ever Evolving Online World

Over the last decade, the shift from physical media to digital distribution is a trend explored literally in front of us every single day. From the music industry, videos and movies, to information and gaming, television and radio, there’s no aspect of the media world that has not been completely transformed. An ancillary trend to this has been the increasing reliance upon service-centered business models over stand-alone content sales. Increasingly empowered consumers, who not only have greater choices than every before, are also actively creating their own content – their own music, videos, films and games – further revolutionizing an industry already under pressure to reinvent itself almost daily.  So what is an artist to do to continue to remain vibrant and build their audience in an era when even the audience itself may become a competitor on any given Sunday?  Here are 3 Best Practices for digital distribution and audience building in an ever evolving online world: Remember your ABC’s.

A. Audience Building. No matter what tactic you’re taking in your distribution, remember that your overall goal is audience building.  You might think it’s sales, and yes, of course that’s true.  But if your audience is constantly, consistently growing, your sales will be also.  If your sales are there, but your audience remains flat, sooner or later, they’ll definitely be pulled in one of the endless other directions available. Remember, even the amateur entertainers are eating up market share (Justin Beiber anyone?).  So be engaged in finding and embracing new fans and friends in as many directions as you possibly can.  To take a more in-depth look at one very powerful aspect of audience building (social media), get my comprehensive 50-page ebook.  If you would like to be on the waiting list to receive this ebook and be offered a special discounted cost, please register here. (Select eBook Pre-Order)

B. Basics. Don’t forget that for every great new idea that comes out, you still need to have your basics in place.  Wanting to go for every new option that comes down the pike (and believe me, they are almost endless right now) can easily become what I call *shiny new object* syndrome.  With all of the possibilities out there in digital distribution, don’t forget that tangible distribution still sells and builds audiences.  It’s the reason we all love souvenirs when we visit someplace new (or even someplace old).  Holding something in your hands creates an experience. So along with the endless digital opportunities, definitely be handing out CD’s, DVD’s, USB Wristbands, and amazing merch every chance you get.  That might mean at concerts and tours, or it might mean contests and giveaways on your website and social media venues.

 

C. Constant Creativity. There’s no way to stay on top of the ever-changing world of digital distribution without having a team member, mentor, or advisor in place who can keep you abreast of all the opportunities available to you, as an artist.  Digital downloads, podcasts, mobile apps, Itunes, Amazon, Virtual Worlds, YouTube, StageIt, GigMaven, EnConcert, Rhapsody, Gigswiz, and the list goes on and on. This is one of the principal reasons that I produce this newsletter each month, because sharing the best practices out there is a vital part of what we do at the All Access Group, and quite simply, bringing that knowledge to a wider audience is exciting to me.

If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a note at info@AllAccessGroup.com.

To your success, Kelli Richards, CEO, The All Access Group, LLC

Google kills SEO – Stay Alive with Social Media

3 Best Practices for Social Media in a Changing SEO World

 

I don’t know how many of you saw the news, but Google is changing how SEO is formulated.  What?  Yes, they’re tossing the algorithm out the window and writing a new recipe for how page ranking works.  While some of the formula will remain as it is, a huge new piece will be based on what they’re calling a “social media grid.” What that means is if you are looking for digital video cams, and I recently tweeted or posted to Facebook about digital video cams – if we are connected on either network, my post will come up in your search. This is one of the biggest changes to online marketing to come in the last decade, and definitely ramps up the importance of social media.

To that end, I am sharing with you all three best practices for underused social media avenues. This is a very brief look at a topic I’ve covered comprehensively in a 50-page ebook.  If you would like to be on the waiting list to receive this ebook (and be offered a special discounted cost), please register here . (select eBook Pre-Order)

BlogTalkRadio

 

When it comes to social networks, one of the most underutilized but amazingly useful is BlogTalkRadio.  BlogTalkRadio is effective and easy-to use as you share your expertise, to build your fan base and increase your branded recognition. It can take a little time to build a following for your live broadcasts, but the fact that you can build a library of your recordings (at no cost) is huge. It has the added benefit that your shows can be produced live, and easily downloaded to podcast for listeners to enjoy later (so don’t be disheartened if you have no live attendees the first few times you broadcast).  Listeners can call in live or conveniently listen online.  Depending on the strength of your already-existing platform of fans, BlogTalkRadio could be a super win, as far as audience participation and brand building are concerned.

This is one platform where you will need to do the tutorials so you can run the back end, but trust me, it’s an easy system to learn and use.  If you plan to run the “one-man” show, you don’t even need to use the back end – simply calling in to the host number will broadcast you live.  If you have a guest, or wish to take audience questions or comments, however, this is essential, so definitely invest the time to create a knowledge base and comfort level.  You can even have a live chat session going while you broadcast – another way to engage your audience.

Profile

 

Like all of your online spaces, be sure to set up a complete and compelling profile. This is how people will find you and your band; it’s also good for SEO purposes, sending your audience to your website, product pages, MySpace, and other social networks.

Go to https://www.BlogTalkRadio.com to get started. Once you’re on the site, click Register (on the top right hand of the page).  As you set up your profile, you’ll see that you can choose a “Display Name” – this is vital. Be sure to choose a name that identifies you and / or your band or music.  This cannot be changed, so be sure you’ve given this a lot of thought. Consider using an email address that you set up just for social media purposes. Check the “I want to host my own show,” as well as YES for the BlogTalkRadio newsletter. Once you have confirmed your registration, you’ll have an opportunity to add your other social networking sites and a description for your show.

Shows

Be prepared with the date, time and vital information when you go to set up your first show. A few tips, be sure to click on and change the duration button, as it defaults to 15 minutes. I recommend that you keep your shows to no longer than 45 minutes – the shorter the show, the more people attend and download. (In fact, the free version of BlogTalkRadio allows only for 30 minute broadcasts.)  You can upload start music for your show if you like, but I recommend NOT doing so until you have the hang of things. It’s easy to start talking once your show begins and forget to wait for the music to queue. Remember, choose a date and time you can do WEEKLY to build a following. NOTHING works as well as consistency.

You are here to build a great presence and you probably have more to share than you might realize. Holding guest interviews to half an hour is not necessarily easy either, so if this is a format you love, consider using the pro version. Do take the time to script your show, at least loosely – this can mean literally writing down every word you plan to say, or it can mean simply making a cheat sheet of things you want to share in case you go off topic or lose your place. If you’re really not sure what to start with, go through old blogs and use them as a guide or a script, or simply have a great intro and three songs that you want to share, then ask for audience questions or remarks.  Have a few friends “planted” to ask questions the first time, just to be safe.

Having guest speakers builds a closer relationship between you and your guest, so if you want to collaborate with a great musician or songwriter or producer, this is one way to begin that discussion.  Be sure to get permission from your guest to use the show for marketing purposes and even to download into a product. (It’s polite to allow them to do the same, of course.)  Other reasons you would have a speaker are to mix up your content, make your show more interesting, and especially to create joint venture opportunities.  After all, your speaker will want his or her audience to hear the show also, so it’s fair to expect them to promote it to their various lists. This provides you much-needed exposure to new audiences. Do be sure to have an approved set of Q&A in place at least a day before your call, and if they’re a musician also, you can upload their music as the lead-in for the show.

I’m going to be more technical here on the “how-to” than I have on other networks, just because BlogTalkRadio’s a somewhat of an undiscovered treasure.  I strongly suggest you take the tutorials available, but this will give you some quick “get started” instructions. When you’re ready to host your show, simply log into BlogTalkRadio and click the MyBlogTalkRadio button at the TOP right hand corner of the page. Then click the MyAccount button. (This is also how you will add new shows, or edit those you have coming up at a future date, should you need to.)  On the left side, you will see a button called My Switchboard. Once you go in there, it is fairly obvious how you will conduct your show. Some things to keep in mind are that you need to call in five minutes early. Your call-in number and HOST CODE are on the right of your switchboard. You can unmute (and mute) callers on the right by clicking on their microphone symbol. Keep in mind that if you intend to have a guest call in, you will want to know their phone number. If you will be the only speaker, you don’t even need to be near a computer, you can simply call in by phone, enter your host code, and voila!

You can also click Start Chat Button to have another facet to your call. This is where callers can type in questions and you can either type your response, or announce their question (and your answer) on the broadcast – a very sexy feature for your audience connect-ability.

 

Friends, Fans and Followers

 

BlogTalkRadio actually has a spot on their home page for helping you to promote your show. Simply hover over the HOME button on the top of the page and click HELP. This will give you a page featuring BLOGTALK 101, FAQs, and MARKETING, as well as some other useful pages. Allow yourself an hour or so to surf this info and do the tutorials involved.  I realize you maybe be overwhelmed creating great content and working with your team and running your gigs – but if you’re not also a marketing maven, then you’re missing the end game.

If you really embrace BlogTalkRadio it is one of the most interesting, easy and fun ways to build your brand. Remember to also send an email announcement to fans for every show. You can also create an “Event” on your other social networks (such as Facebook, Linkedin, etc., etc.) as well as an announcement on your Blog and Twitter page with a link to your Show. Remember to use a shortened Bit.ly link so that you can track its effectiveness. https://bit.ly

Once you’re on the air, feel free to ask business partners and / or clients, etc., if they would like to sponsor your show. This can be a very good source of revenue for you. It is also a way to create a Joint Venture – simply ask ANOTHER BlogTalkRadio host to swap sponsorship with you. That would mean that they announce you and your show at the top of theirs, and you do the same for them.

Finally, after your show has been broadcast, you can push it out onto your various online portals, such as your Facebook Profile and Fan Page, your Blog, Twitter, etc.

You can also put them up again and again, as your subject matter or music becomes relevant to various groups of people or current events and issues. After a time, these shows become a long-standing library that your audience and client base can refer back to.  Finally, you can easily download your audio, use one of many easy software options, like Jing to add a slideshow, and post it to YouTube also.

 

 

Meetup Groups – Social Media Network AND Live Networking

Meetup Groups is a very cool idea, a great social network and a terrific way for an artist to engage a fan base both virtually and in real life.  In fact, for artists and musicians, I would take the risk to say this is the most important network for you to be on.  Here’s why.  Meetup is an online portal where participants actually meet through live local, regional events (for instance, gigs, meet and greets, merch events, rehearsals, etc., etc., the list is limitless).  Let your fans and followers know about this opportunity for them to meet each other face-to-face and build their community.  In fact, SoundCloud (a great resource for bands and artists) has its own Meetup page and over 70 Meetup groups globally.  https://soundcloud.com/pages/meetups.  This is a way to encourage their users to exchange tips, answer questions, create collaboratively and learn from the success of others.  You can also run virtual events – inviting fans and members to tune in for a live BlogTalkRadio broadcast of you and your band rehearsing (for example).  (There is a fee to own a group, but you can do it for about $15 or less a month.)

Meetup works a LOT like an online group.  To begin with, you can message all of your members with updates – and you can have ONLINE meetings or teleseminars too – not just live meetings, as mentioned above.  In fact, be sure to invite your Meetup Group members to all of your events – even if it’s a group you simply belong to, in addition to those you own.  If a group you belong to doesn’t allow you to email the other members, ask the owner if they’d be gracious enough to share your event with everyone.

Profile

Once you sign up for Meetup, you’ll be asked a host of questions to help you define yourself.  Definitely do this and do it well.  Remember, you don’t just want to think about what you want, but what keywords would your number one fans use that would lead them to you.  This is a networking effort, after all.  Where would your audience be?

Joining Groups

Go ahead!  Join a few groups and attend a few events.  (You’ll see a big box at the top left of the page that says “Find a Meetup Group.”) There’s no faster way to create a buzz than to show up at a like-minded event and hand out some fliers to upcoming gigs or meet and greets.  (If you have a team, obviously you can delegate this and spread the love.)  I try to choose groups with large numbers, but even a small group of your best brand advocates (fans) can be a great way to market.  Each group you join will ask you to introduce yourself through their profile, so be prepared with your bio handy.

Friends, Fans and Followers

Here’s the how to on this to make your life easy.  The button to start a group is on the top left of Meetup.com.  They’ll walk you through the whole process.  But do have your group description written before you get there, just so you can have it thought out and effectively written.  The process of filling your meetup is amazing.  You’ll be asked to fill out a few areas of interest when you do your profile – and when you go to promote your meetup, those keywords on other people’s profiles become part of your outreach.  Meetup will basically pass along an invite to anyone who’s used the keywords you choose for your group within your regional area.

One thing you’ll definitely want to do is set up an autoresponder welcoming all new members and pointing them to your website or store – that’s a secondary place where you will provide your basic bio, product and corporate info, and where to find you (other social networks, for instance).   And definitely take it viral!  After you’ve got some momentum going, put the call out in an email and/or blog post to challenge your mob to support you.  Make it a routine to recognize those fans / friends and encourage more people to get involved.

Promote it! Send a Facebook event invite out for all of your Meetup activities and get togethers.  Then, be sure to send a link to join your meetup through all of your other social media efforts (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., etc.). Not all of your members have to be local, especially if you are – or expect to be – touring any day soon.  Going to Madison Wisconsin for a gig?  Change the location of your Meetup to that zip code and start promoting it anew to build a vibrant fan base!  Cross-networking is super important by the time you’ve got all of this in place.  For instance, Set up a Twitter hashtag for your meetup group (i.e. @KelliRichards and #OnStage).  Give people a handout at each meetup with the account, the hashtag and all the presenter’s/participants Twitter accounts and ask your members to tweet about the event.

Be sure to send out emails in advance of your meetups that are hand formatted to look different from the one’s send out automatically by meetup. as people tend not to read those. Schedule these with your other emails and newsletters in mind, of course.  Remember, your list is your goldmine – don’t abuse your people & never SPAM them..

 

Mobile Messaging

 

Like I said, there are many options worth exploring in each of these arenas. I’ll be suggesting only one or two, however, in order to simplify this discussion and help you get started.  When it comes to engaging your fans, anyone who’s involved in the direct-to-fan distribution discussion will tell you that getting your fan’s email address and mobile numbers is a huge win.  By collecting contact information from followers through a sign-up form, artists can create very effective campaigns utilizing e-mail and mobile promotions. A cool ancillary program you can attach to your Fan Page to accomplish this is Mozes, a leading provider of mass promotional text messaging.  Mozes powers the mobile marketing of some big, well-known artists, such as Rihanna and Kings of Leon.  It won’t cost your users anything additional to join your “mob” and receive your texts (other than their normal text fees from their carrier), but there is a fee for you – the band or musician, which can be as low as $10 per month for a very simple campaign. You’ll need to actually request a quote through their plans and pricing page.  There are a myriad of plans, but the most simple will allow you to create a self-service platform for engaging fans and driving sales. You’ll also be able to run mobile sweepstakes, distribute mobile coupon codes and broadcast trackable links to online storefronts and sales pages.  There are higher levels of service with more applications and fan outreach options as well.

This is a very brief look at a topic I have covered comprehensively in a 50-page ebook. If you would like to be on the waiting list to receive this ebook (and be offered a special discounted cost), please register here. (select eBook Pre-Order)

Kelli Richards, CEO, The All Access Group, LLC

The Futures Agency

I was recently invited to be part of The Futures Agency by my good friend and colleague, Gerd Leonhard.

For those of you who do not know, The Futures Agency is the name of Gerd’s company, but he’s also created an online industry think-tank of friends and colleagues. I’m super excited to be part of this think-tank and elite group of leaders in the digital industry. I’ll be writing more about this over the coming weeks and months, but for now, I’d like to invite everyone to *like* The Futures Agency Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/FuturesAgency to become part of the growing conversation around creating meaningful change in how data is shared, sold and created.

Here’s a great example of Gerd Leonhard (at TEDx Warwick).  For more information about Gerd Leonhard’s company, The Futures Agency, please visit his website: https://www.thefuturesagency.com

TEDxWarwick – Gerd Leonhard – Friction is Fiction: The Future of Business, Communications and Media
To your success!  Kelli Richards, CEO of The All Access Group

* A few notes: TFA is based in Switzerland and is currently comprised of 15 Associates working directly with Gerd Leonard on an independent basis: Jack Myers, Glen Hiemstra, Ross Dawson, Mike Masnick, Alan Moore, Jonathan MacDonald, Kei Shimada and Didier Marlier, to name only a few of them. Gerd Leonhard will serve as CEO and plans to grow his company into one of the most amazing agencies on the planet, based on 5 key principles: 1. Knowledge grows when shared, therefore we share everything 2. Proudly find elsewhere (PFE) 3. Do what you do best and link to the rest (*Jeff Jarvis) 4. Spend less time being important and more time being relevant 5. The leaders of the future are connectors – not just directors.

Gerd’s free iPhone / Android apps are available here: https://gerd.fm/cvd1lK

6 Ways to Build Your Brand and Grab Your Audience

 

In today’s world, the connection to your customer is your number one asset. The path to communicating most effectively to your “fans” literally becomes the yellow brick road. If you’re not giving your fan or client a myriad of choices through which to connect, you are missing out not only on revenues, but also on building your army of loyal brand advocates. Here are 6 best practices to implement immediately to forge a solid, long-standing relationship with your best audiences and clients.

#1. Good as Gold – Email Addresses. I can’t stress this enough. You need to ask your client / fan base for their email addresses often – and you need to offer them something valuable in return. Whether that’s a great audio course that you’ve created or a track off your new album, having a way to reconnect to your target fans or clients frequently and authentically is your most valuable asset. For more information on HOW to collect those email addresses (what mechanisms to use, what offerings to inspire the trade, etc.), please sign up for the pre-sale of my forthcoming ebook, “All You Need is Love – Using Social Media to Build an Army of Brand Advocates.”

#2. Body and Soul. The body of your work has got to be excellent obviously, but in today’s world, your fan base and clients want more than just your products. They want to know who YOU are and what makes you tick. They want to be your friends on Facebook and feel a personal, one-on-one connection to you. In short, they want you to bring your soul – the passion behind your work. Be sure that you’re sharing with enough depth and in enough places to create this powerful connection to your audience. This could mean giving interviews to mainstream media – or to popular bloggers. It could mean sharing videos and photos of your personal life – images of you when you’re just being you, without your “brand” everywhere. If you don’t have a blog yourself, consider putting one up. You can keep it super simple by doing video blogs from wherever you are, bringing your fan base “behind the curtain” so to speak and including them in what you do and who you are, body and soul.

#3. Microscope, Telescope, Periscope. If you’re ready to move forward with the most important work of your life (and if you’re not, stop wasting time already!), then you’re going to need a dream team to move you forward. It’s easy to get caught up from a singular point of view – whether that be a microscopic view lost in the details, or a far-out telescope view of the big picture, but with NO details – and if you don’t have a periscope to look underneath it all and spot the rough seas — you just might not survive the process. Begin pulling your team together from near and far – choose them with great care.

 

#4. Inquiry! Constantly asking your fans and client base what they want from you is a vital best practice. As we know from the music industry, things can change day-to-day, and it’s those artists who are listening most closely and who remain the most malleable, who are the most likely to survive – and thrive. You can use an online service, like SurveyMonkey to run a poll, or you can reach out through your newsletter. Ask your audience what they most want from you in the next month, six months and year – and then make sure that your model is wrapped tightly around those expectations. And while you’re asking for stuff, ask for their cell phone numbers. Mobile marketing is huge. ASK your audience how they want to be contacted and then CONTACT them. Send those messages once a week or so with an idea or better yet, ask them for their ideas. Send them to a free online show. Make the connection.

#5. Testimonials. Whether you’re a top tier platinum artist, a leader in your industry, or just starting out – nothing speaks louder than the words of a fan, client, collaborator, journalist or even a team member. Start gathering those testimonials and post them everywhere – on your website, your newsletter, your social media sites and your fan forums. The client has nothing but choices in today’s world; make sure that you’re sharing the wonderful things being said about you and the work that you do.

#6. Inclusivity and Exclusivity. Be sure that you’re out there in a big enough way to include as many possible clients and fans as possible. Having said that, be sure that you’re also building a level of exclusivity into your products and your availability. Have a space that belongs only to your most ardent uber fans. Perhaps that’s a forum only for superfan members at a certain level of payment or participation, or perhaps it’s an event that you do (either live or online) that only has room for 50 guests.

*For new musicians, one space to check out is StageIt (see the Resources section for more info).

Kelli Richards, CEO, The All Access Group, LLC
and Author of The Art of Digital Music


Hot Stuff from Hot Caramel – Excerpts from my Interview with Irene Cara

Being able to support great artists and entrepreneurs as they break away from past successes in their lives and embark on the new is one of life’s biggest highs for me.  Few performers have had the amazing success and influence of Irene Cara – I had the chance to interview Irene recently and to hear about her new group, “Hot Caramel.”  The direction Irene Cara’s sound and life has taken is deeply inspiring.  Just to remind everyone about Irene’s lifetime of successes, as an actress, Irene received the Image Award for Best Actress for her work with Diahann Carroll in the NBC Movie of the Week, Sisters.  She also received an NAACP Image Award Nomination for her portrayal of Myrlie Evers in the PBS movie on Civil Rights Leader Medger Evers “For Us the Living.”

For Flashdance alone Irene won 5 major awards, including Top Female Vocalist-Pop Singles and Pop Single of the Year. As a songwriter her talent earned her an Academy Award, 2 Grammys, a Golden Globe and a Peoples Choice Award for Flashdance. She was also the first African American female to win an Academy Award since Hattie McDaniel in 1939, plus the first Hispanic female since Rita Moreno and the first bi-racial female ever to win in any category – pre-dating Halle Berry by nearly 20 years.

Here are a few excerpts from our interview.  You can hear the entire Q&A at https://allaccessgroup.com/articles-and-resources/blog-talk-radio.

Kelli Richards: “You know, Irene, there’s just so much to say about the amazing career you’ve enjoyed.  Your list of awards is long and impressive. If you’re able to choose just one or two, what have been the most shining moments in your career that you’ve been most proud of?

Irene Cara: “I think this new phase is really the most important thing to me now. I mean, I don’t like to look backwards.  I like to live in the present and look forward – to look toward the future.  I started in the industry as a child … and I did a lot of work as a 5 year old, 6 year old, 8 year old, 11 year old.  You know, I did Electric Company when I was a child.  I did my first movie at fourteen, a highly acclaimed, pretty much is considered an African-American classic called “Sparkle.” At the time that was unique, because that was during the whole black exploitation genre of films.  There were very few films about people of color.

 

Of course, Roots was iconic classic television series that started the whole miniseries genre.  I played Alex Haley’s mother as a young girl.  I started my entire career as a child and then into my teens.  And then, you know, Fame and Flashdance were pretty much the end of an era for me.  Pretty much the highlight of a 20 year career for me…

So now, this is the stage where I consider the beginning of my adult career.  It really embodies who I truly am as an artist.

 

… I’ve been a working artist since childhood, and this is the first time where I’m now free to express myself as an adult artist the way I see myself … not fulfilling someone else’s vision of what that is.

 


To learn more about Hot Caramel’s new double CD, visit https://irenecara.com/cdbook3.html

Kelli Richards, CEO, The All Access Group, LLC

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