Category: Technology

Huge thanks to my friend Melissa Wilson, for calling me the “human bridge” between music and tech (and a rainmaker – always a word we embrace at my company!) on her most recent “NetworldingBlog”.  To read the entire piece, please go to

According to, A rainmaker is any person who brings clients, money, or respect to an organization based solely on his or her association.

Enter Kelli Richards, my friend who is a maestro at strategic rainmaking.  Her passion is bringing opportunity to both music and tech worlds by being a “human bridge” and has successfully done this for at least two decades…   Read on…


Digital Music East, Justin Timberlake, MySpace TV, and Where it’s All Headed

Human beings love music. It’s universally appreciated across all cultures and economic stations, all political and philosophical groups, and all ages. In fact, it threads itself, an incredibly strong communication tool, through generations. The impact of music is something that has never changed – it is as constant and timeless as humanity itself. It is as broad as the bridge from the Beatles to Irving Berlin and from Timberlake to Tchaikovsky.

But that’s about the ONLY thing in the music industry that is constant, everything else has been thrown up in chaos, redefining itself almost daily – often faster than even the most tech-savvy consumer can access – and certainly faster than artists and labels can learn. It’s not just the distribution and technology either; it’s the ever-shifting rights and monetization. Throw in the shape-shifting virtual and social spaces, and we’re looking at a virtual whirlwind of talent, tech and timing.

This is a time when mentors and leaders become uber vital to an artist’s process, and events like Digital Music Forum East (and West) become a beacon that attracts both the futurists and the icons of the industry.  This year’s Digital Music East happens in only a few weeks in New York and focuses on the five most vital parts of the industry today: Music-Tech, Rights, Distribution, Monetization and The Future.

Each series includes a number of 15-minute presentations by the top leaders and innovators in the music industry and panel discussions on hot topics, including:

Music and the Social Web
Music, Money & Innovation
New Technologies & the Artist
Rights & Licensing: If I Wanted to Reform Music Copyright Law, I Would…
What’s Next In Digital Distribution Models?
Monetizing the Music Experience: It’s Not Just About Selling Music Anymore
Predictions & Provocations about the Future of Technology & the Music

I will personally be speaking on “Taking the Crowd to the Cloud,” and basic info and tips on social media for indies and legends, the subject of my recent Amazon #1 bestseller on 2/23 at 11am. I was amazed to see how many artists did not know the variety of social spaces available to them, like podcast creators and streaming radio opps, such as BlogTalkRadio, and writing my eBook was a chance to provide a starting point for those new to the social space and Direct-to-Fan distribution.

Because in all fairness, even for the seasoned veteran in social media, this is a space that can raise even the portals to the highest of highs and then dump them when the next great triple E ride comes along, like the death of MySpace and the rise of Facebook.  And don’t think it can’t happen again.  Or UNhappen.  MySpace’s new benefactor, Justin Timberlake himself, is poised and ready to become the darling of real-time web TV – according to him at least.  “The future of MySpace is about what you’re going to do. About who you’re going to become,” he said in a brief presentation. “MySpace TV is the first foray into that future.”

MySpace TV will still encompass the site’s library of 42 million songs and 100,000 music videos, and it will enable instant communication and huge search-ability around them between friends.

Who knows where MySpace TV will go from there?  “As the plot of your favorite drama unfolds the joke of your favorite SNL character plays or even the last-second shot of your favorite team swishes the net, we’re giving you the opportunity to connect your friends to your moments as they’re actually occurring. This is the evolution of one of our greatest inventions, the television,” said Timberlake.  For the millions of artists who had invested their time and music and audiences on MySpace, I hope he’s right.

Kelli Richards
The All Access Group, LLC


Hypebot Promotes “Taking the Crowd to the Cloud”

I’ll write a separate blog about how my eBook went all the way to #1 on Amazon this weekend, but I wanted to take a moment and offer a special thanks to Bruce Houghton – a powerful voice in the music industry – who writes for HypeBot. He made an exception to his SOP to review the book, and his observations are spot on and very important to me. Because of the holiday weekend, I made the executive choice to leave the eBook at the launch price just until mid-week, giving all of the artists out there a chance to grab it (and use it!).  MANY thanks to Bruce and to everyone who supported our effort to offer a hands-on, simple, DIY look at social media for the music industry. 
~ Kelli Richards

Kelli Richards’ Social Media For Music eBook Just $3.99 Today Only – Published 11/11/11

I don’t normally due blattant pitches for book’s seminar’s, etc. But after downloading Kelli Richard‘s eBook Taking the Crowd to the Cloud – Social Media for the Music Industry to be supportive on her Kindle launch day and spending time with it, I’m going break my rule.  I won’t tell you that this is the only rescource on social media for musicians. But Kelli Richards is an industry vet (btw, don’t forget today’s the real Veteran’s Day in the U.S.) who fights the music marketing fight every day; and to grab the most up to date information for $3.99 is a bargain.

Kelli’s guide covers all the usual modern marketing avenues from a musician’s perspective: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, blogging, email marketing and even MySpace. There are also chapters on less utilized recources like Blog Talk Radio, Linkedin, Meetups and live event networking. Along the way, there are examples and short case studies.

Finally, she takes a look at several of the major players in ditect to fan marketing including ReverbNation, Topspin and Nimbit as monetization tools. It’s all there. But don’t just read about it. Use it.

$3.99 today only:Taking the Crowd to the Cloud – Social Media for the Music Industry

Written by Bruce Houghton, in DIY for Hypebot

Kelli Richards,
CEO of The All Access Group, LLC

A Digital Insider Scoffs at Townshend

As an industry insider – on way more than one level – it’s hard to take Pete Townshend’s comments as anything more than another great artist railing at the system.  Look, in the end, we all have to admit that the system is broken.  That’s one thing that Townshend got right in that interview.  After that?  Well, it’s all up for debate.  But the fact that the debate was called to the floor again, that’s a good thing. 

Let’s look at what he probably got wrong.  Apple is not the villain here.  In fact, probably the opposite.  Apple is responsible for 75% of all LEGAL music downloads.  And there’s no way that this makes them a vampire.  It makes them a hero, of sorts.  By creating a closed system, where one download went to ONE machine, Apple stopped the bleeding of way more than royalties. It addressed a cultural shift that it was OKAY to steal music.  “Sharing.”  So there’s something else that Townshend got right in that interview.  Stealing and sharing are not the same thing – and the mere idea that music should be free is an utter insult to the millions of people who give their lives to create it. 

I should disclose here that I was part of Apple way back when and helped launch digital music before it broke wide open, but my 13+ years in digital consultancy have certainly shown me every side of this equation (and argument). 

Whether or not music should be free has gone where it belongs. It’s gone to artist-controlled DIY.  DIY creation and DIY distribution. The indie artists have unlocked the code.  Give away great material to build a tribe, and get that tribe to adore you.  They’ll show up with the money, for sure, but only after the love affair has begun. 

Here’s the other problem with Pete’s point of view – it assumes that Apple controls the digital distribution industry, and quite simply, it does not.  In the world of Spotify and MusicShark and locker systems, Apple is only one giant float in the parade.  Let’s clarify, they may even be leading the parade, but after a brief initial claim to the universe, way back when, they’re far from alone.  Having said that, it’s obvious that the consumer, overall, loves Apple.  Quite simply, in the words of futurist Gerd Leonhard, it’s easy.  It’s a plug and go solution.  It meets busy consumers where they want to be met, and serving the consumer IS the end game on the business side of music (and anything digital). 

The artistic side?  Producing great content and hiring mentors to aide and abet that?  I wish I could ask Townshend why that is at all iTunes’ responsibility.  That is a model that we see fading at every label, sadly (& that’s me wearing my hat as a former A&R exec at one of the majors).  From this insider’s viewpoint, however, it will fade, but not die.  There is a space for grooming artists, from a label’s point of view – otherwise we end up with the music industry’s version of Yentl for every project.  (The same Editor, Producer, Writer and Actress, if you needed me to spell out that comparison.)  Without label support, bands have limited objectivity of their work, at best.  But we KNOW what percentage of artists get signed.  So this new world of digital DIY is an amazing opportunity for artist AND consumer. Which brings us to Townshend’s issue with gatekeepers – one that social media and DIY will summarily trump, given enough time. Spaces like iLIke and Facebook will level the playing field.

Finally, it’s NOT Apple’s job to bridge the gap between labels and DIY. They are, like it or not, a retailer.  Why should they be expected to fix what’s broken in music?  The business model for direct sales/acquisition of recorded music in the traditional sense is collapsing.

But with all of the GREAT minds in the digital and music space, of course we’ll find a new model.  Music does far more than soothe the savage breast, it is the most vital language of unification.  Ask the millions of Chinese listening to Gaga or Beiber – or just look at the worldwide recognition of Mozart.  Or the global domination of Idol.

Yes, there are definitely parts of the foundation with cracks, or worse, but I have full confidence from my life experience of consulting with the industry leaders and artists, that we’ll find a new and more powerful model to propel us forward. Until then, in the immortal words of Sonny and Cher, the beat goes on. 

Kelli Richards
The All Access Group, LLC

The Pandora Box of Mobile – The Sky’s the Limit

If you were at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco last week, you probably heard Pandora Founder Tim Westergren share that SEVENTY PERCENT of their usage is through mobile venues.  Yes.  70%.  And having created a super-successful digital space for themselves, Pandora doesn’t see Spotify, iTunes, or any other competition eating their lunch any time soon.

Tim Westergren shared the following about the portability of the iPhone and its impact on Pandora, “Overnight it transformed our business. We almost doubled our growth rate. It changed Pandora from being desktop computer radio to being like real radio.”

One can’t completely appreciate the enormous (and growing) impact of the mobile industry without really understanding its past. On my BlogTalkRadio series, I recently interviewed my longtime colleague, Anthony Stonefield, a leader in the mobile and digital industries, who literally pioneered downloadable song distribution in the 90’s and popularized ringtones worldwide in 2000 (creating today’s $8 billion ringtone market). Anthony also executive produced the worldwide mobile program for the Live 8 event, and the mobile charity part of Melissa Ethridge’s “I Run for Life” breast cancer campaign, among others. I asked Anthony Stonefield where he thought super distribution will take us in the next few yeas and to talk about SmartPhones and their broad effect on users.

“Smartphones put everything that you had on your PC into your hand… I think what’s happening now is that we’re unlocking the true internet. Until today, we have always thought that we are driving the web, but now, SmartPhones are reaching down into the emerging markets, to the next several billion individuals, and these people are creating revolutions, changing the face of the planet, because they’re getting their first real-time connection to the rest of the world, through SmartPhones.  As these phones infiltrate emerging markets, we have a whole new world to embrace… this is changing the nature of the human being and the way we interact.”

“My experience is that entertainment media is always consumed on impulse.  So the technical solutions are also part of this equation.  4G will eventually enable a distribution model that can scale, but until then, we face serious limitations of scale… 4G has a way to go before it can provide viable, reliable user experiences, but it does enable a way to discover and present media very rapidly.”

You can hear the entire interview here.

Getting back to the future, so to speak, Pandora’s founder explained at the Web 2.0 Summit that Pandora transformed from a simple desktop radio to a “real” radio when users started taking their iPhones and plugging them into their cars and living rooms.  It’s important to realize that, conceptually, Tim Westergren does not consider Pandora competition to Apple, Spotify or other subscription music services.  He considers it a streaming radio service, and does not charge for participation.

With revenue skyrocketing due to ad sales, similar to traditional radio, Pandora has forayed further into radio, actually developing programming and content – and perhaps even newscasts and “sports radio” broadcasts in the future, further solidifying them as the leader in this industry – at least for now.  Like any great industry, competitors WILL show up.  AOL, who could arguably be called the founder of online radio, relaunched its own product within hours of Westergren’s speech, with half of the audio commercials.  (And AOL Radio already carries ESPN Radio and ABC News stations.)

It’s hard to know if AOL will be the biggest contender in the mobile war, but with Smartphones becoming the “transistor radios” of the future, Pandora’s box is definitely filled with opportunity.

A client of mine is about to launch her 2nd eBook. I’d like to change the price on her FIRST eBook on Amazon (and everywhere else it’s up). Could someone tell me how to do that? If you need to see the eBook for some reason, it can be found at:

Kelli Richards,
CEO of The All Access Group, LLC

The Gifts of the Digital Age – Remember 9/11

Like so many, I have my own story about 9/11, one which remains especially poignant for me.  I was scheduled to be on Flight 93 from Newark to San Francisco, returning from a trip to New York to see two-day concert that Michael Jackson did there to celebrate his 35th anniversary in the business. I had a terrible feeling about going to New York though — and didn’t wind up making the trip at all.  I listened to that inner voice, and every day since, I feel that in some not so small way, I’m one of the lucky ones who survived.

Today’s article will be short. It reflects upon one of the most powerful testaments to the age of digital technology. Because of the advances in digital technology, we are able to keep alive the memories of those who lost loved ones on this day, ten years ago – and even more, to broadcast those memories to our nation and to our world. They do not remain locked in a vault somewhere, for eternity, they are instead broadcast to the far corners of the universe through social media.

For the past five years, StoryCorps and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum have worked to record at least one story to honor each life lost on September 11, 2001, ten years ago today. To date, families and friends have memorialized nearly 600 individual victims of the attacks through the StoryCorps interview process. When the 9/11 Memorial opened this morning, excerpts from 10 of these StoryCorps interviews will be featured at the site.

The gifts of digital technology go one step further. Gratefully, the 9/11 Memorial Guide is available through a new iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone app, which visitors to the Memorial will download before visiting the site. This app will allow visitors to search the names arrangement of the Memorial and present select StoryCorps interviews, which help illustrate the enormity of the loss on 9/11 through the personal remembrances of families who lost loved ones on that day. The app will feature StoryCorps stories from each of the nine groups of victims memorialized at the site:  WorldTradeCenter(North), WorldTradeCenter(South), the Pentagon, Flight 93, Flight 77, Flight 175, Flight 11.

May the memories of those lost be preserved and shared.

Kelli Richards,
CEO of The All Access Group, LLC

VizLingo – The Newest Gadget for Gen Z

Yes, the tech revolution has produced an endless stream of new gizmos, gadgets and tools. Some of these are vital to our day-to-day existence, like email, and some are simply a fun and entertaining distraction (Angry Birds anyone?)…

Not long ago, entrepreneurs Todd Younggren and Azeo Fables created hatched the idea to use the latest revolution in tech, mobile, to create a new way to communicate, and  VizLingo was born.  Simply put, VizLingo is a messaging tool that translates your words into video. The UI is exactly what the new generation of users demands, fun and easy! Just type, see and send. The user simply types any message into VizLingo to see each word of their message illustrated by a 1-2 second video clip. Streamed together (with subtitles at the bottom for the less creative), it’s a visual puzzle that can be sent anywhere – directly to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, mobile phones and email addresses.

If you’re thinking “I don’t get it” – that’s actually a good thing.  It’s one of those subtle mechanisms that has to be experienced, like poetry for instance.  VizLingo is definitely a sort of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” medium – a new form of visual poetry, if you will. It’s not only who it plays TO, but also what the “writer” puts into their work. My favorite part of  VizLingo is that, soon, the creator can customize their own Lingo by uploading video clips right from a mobile phone or digital camera. It’s fun and easy, and in the hands of a user who has the time to be super creative, it could definitely go big and go viral.

VizLingo’s Global Lingo is communal, created by and for the VizLingo community, boasting tens of thousands of user-generated clips shared from all over the world. And in today’s world of “new normal” social marketing,  VizLingo could be a BIG deal.  In fact, I think Ford and the Hershey Chocolate company and Virgin Airlines, etc., should engage their younger clientele and create a promotion where anyone using their products in a VizLingo video and pushing it out to their own friends and fans, wins a [fill in the blank].

In the immortal words of one of my favorite ads, “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” And if VizLingo finds the creative joint ventures that FourSquare embarked on when everyone first stood there saying, “I don’t get it,” well, we may end up wishing we did.

Kelli Richards,
CEO of The All Access Group, LLC

Big Brother has Landed, and his name is Foursquare

It’s hard to know just how big social media is going to get – and even harder to remember that there was once a world without an internet.  We’ve all just accepted this “new normal” in our day-to-day lives – along with digital music, eBooks, iPads and a long list of other tech advances that were barely even imagined a mere thirty years ago.  (Some of which I actually had the privilege to work on at their inception – like Music at Apple.)

In my recent interview with the CEO of BookBaby and CDBaby, Brian Felsen, Brian shared that 80% of people under the age of 30 have never even bought a CD.  (To hear that interview, go to

So where does this go next?  It’s more than viral and mobile, in my humble opinion, Social is very quickly becoming Big Brother. Take Foursquare, the king of Geolocated Social Media platforms.  Foursquare made its debut in 2009, popularizing the idea of “checking in,” or using a cell phone application to tell friends that you are at a particular restaurant, bar or park. It’s definitely a cool idea – so cool that Facebook and Google developed their own geolocated check in apps. Everyone wondered if the web giants would squash Foursquare like a bug, but so far Foursquare is definitely more than holding its ground, with over 10 million registered users.

Dennis Crowley, the chief executive and one of the founders of Foursquare, attributed its continued momentum to its singular focus on location. “When people think about Facebook, they think about it as a place to send their friends messages or post updates, not necessarily as a place to check in,” he said. “We’re associated with one thing, location, and that really helps.”

Most recently, Foursquare teamed up with Groupon.  Groupon is actually Foursquare’s sixth and latest daily deals partner, but by no means their last.  Along with Groupon deals, app users also will be able to see deals offered by Foursquare’s five other partners: BuyWithMe, Zozi, Gilt City, Living Social and AT&T Interactive.

In June, they also created an alliance with finance giant, American Express to offer discounts to cardholders when they check in on their cell phone at certain shops and restaurants. (Although Foursquare will not be receiving any revenue from the American Express deal, it says the promotion will help legitimize the company’s approach and will help attract other, more lucrative partnerships.)

How does all of this affect the consumer?  It means real-time, by-location deals will be created through users’ apps.  A simpler explanation:  You’ll soon walk by a Gap and get a Gap deal sent to your device, simply because geolocated Foursquare knows where you are.  Yes, Big Brother is here, and we have invited him into our lives, kimono wide open and location checked in.

Kelli Richards,
CEO of All Access Group

Kelli Richards Hosts a VIP Breakfast at the Bandwidth Music | Technology Conference

On Tuesday, August 16th, at 8am, industry thought-leaders, Kelli Richards, CEO of the All Access Group, will host an intimate breakfast and discussion to kick off day two of the annual Bandwidth Music | Technology Conference.  The focus of this “breakfast club” will be Kelli Richards’ newest eBook “Taking the Crowd to the Cloud – Social Media for the Music Industry.” VIP Breakfast and a printed copy of the eBook (valued at $37) will be available to the first 20 people who respond. Please RVSP to reserve your VIP seat at the event.

The Bandwidth Music | Technology Conference is for music and technology professionals and focuses on the evolving musical experience. Topics focus on marketing, fan behavior, trends and future forecasts, and an examination of the ways people discover, purchase, interact with, and are exposed to music.

Please RVSP to reserve your VIP seat at the event.

Is Mobile Advertising Over Before it Began? One or Two Standouts Still in the Game

Unlike social media marketing, social advertising seems to be taking a big hit from the never-ending recession we find ourselves in as a nation.  I say this because it seems that the newest golden egg in advertising, Mobile, had hit a new low before it ever reached any kind of high.  And if you look deeper, what it’s really indicative of is click based marketing overall.

It’s been interesting to watch mobile marketing come to life.  I worked in this space with Virgin Mobile several years ago; and at that point it was more of an evangelism exercise trying to educate major brands and media companies about what this was all about. Now it’s an evangelism to get them to stay the course and build an audience.

How does this all play out in the new digital age, if audiences and ROI aren’t born overnight? With 56% of Fortune 500 marketers dissatisfied with or simply not using click-based mobile advertising, it’s possible that only a few strong companies will be able to ride the wave, approach smaller marketing businesses, provide a good service at the right price, and hang in there until the economy turns.

One of the few standouts who seem to be weathering the storm and getting it right is Augme Technologies. Augme has created what they call the “AD LIFE™ Ad Network” to help marketers engage with their best consumers. Basically, by using sophisticated targeting options, Augme reaches 100+ million unique visitors (and 9+ billion impressions) each month. It’s the targeting that makes this unique and successful, with options that range from region to behavior to platform and device, as well as a huge array of demographic combinations.

If you follow the old-adage that the best customer is one you already have, then the mobile marketing industry should first be able to count on repeat business from established clients before creating a trajectory of higher profits.  In this case, it doesn’t look like that will happen, not at the present time anyway. But having an example of a company that’s navigating these new waters successfully does give some hope.

With Smartphones taking over the mobile industry at a phenomenal rate, the mobile advertising world should look like a wide open field of opportunity, but right now, the numbers just don’t support this.  A recent survey showed that although 93% of marketers would move further into mobile ad spending – 43% of that group cites a low return on investment as a block to continuing with the platform.

Another statistic worth mentioning is that the most effective mobile ad campaigns were email based, where consumers had signed up and chosen to participate. Just a note, this is something that social media marketers have known for over a decade.

“Signup ads are native to mobile advertising,” said Zephrin Lasker, CEO and co-founder, Pontiflex, one of the largest players in the mobile ad field. “People have a new sense of control and meaningful experiences with brands.”

In the end, this forum also demands a new level of creativity, collaboration and UE, user experience.  If Angry Birds can become a phrase and experience that 78% of mobile phone users know and have participated with, then Angry Birds who drink Dr. Pepper makes perfect sense.  


Kelli Richards, CEO of All Access Group

For more information on Social Media Marketing, especially in how it affects the Music Industry, grab a copy of my new eBook: Taking the Crowd to the Cloud – Social Media for the Music Industry.”

The music industry has turned into a very complicated space, and marketing was NEVER easy to begin with.  Written by industry insider, Kelli Richards, “Taking the Crowd to the Cloud – Social Media for the Music Industry” raises the bar and demystifies social media marketing, helping musicians, agents and anyone in our industry to THRIVE – it empowers and transforms the marketing mindset.  Featuring TEN top social networks for musicians, this eBook maximizes your social media to build (and keep) your audience. It holds the key to eMail Marketing, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and several hot secrets in Social Media. (It even covers how to port your MySpace contents to Facebook Music.) For $37 this is easily the million dollar choice.


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