1000 Fans of Natalie Merchant: 2 essays for artist in the digital age

March 7, 2008

pgp-8142.jpgThe recorded music industry has become the global icon of how to destroy customer goodwill and torpedo an industry, in the digital age. Their mis-steps go from the tragically self-defeating (suing fans, grandma and apple pie) to the spectacularly ineffective (seeding corrupt files on P2P networks, malware and DRM). The US recorded music industry isnt in decline, its dead, there is nothing left to do but harvest the usable organs.

The surest sign that the recorded music industry has gone the way of chimney sweeps and buggy builders, is a couple of recent articles from blog A-listers Seth Goodin and Kevin Kelly. These are not folks from the lunatic fringe screaming in the wind, like myself, these guys are mainstream pundits well respected by the conference booking set. Even they no longer question but are promoting solutions to come after. The lessons and insights they offer could be as instructive to magazine publishers and indie flim makers as they should be to musicians.

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Kevin Kelly’s article, 1,000 True Fans is a must read for any artist hoping to make money in the digital age. In it he argues that an artist can make a decent living ($100,000k/yr) concentrating most of their efforts on cultivating a fan base of just 1,000 “true fans”. He defines a true fan as “someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce”, ie your mother. The model is actually very well reasoned and hearkens back to the patronage model that Pholks have been debating for years. The application of a CLV to a music fan that appeals to me on some fundamentally geeky level but attempting to a hard dollar value on fans is frought with issues. While this is agreat article with lots of interesting areas for exploration and strategy building its to be taken with a dose of salt.

head.gifMarketing god Seth Godin, one of the coolest looking bald guys since Cypher, released the text of a speech he delivered on the music business. His Live Music Talk is another long read, but well worth it (pdf here). He basically argues that fan engagement, he calls it “tribe management”, is the future of the music business. Get permission, get personal and get pervasive is the point he is driving home. Of course he says it much better then that but you get the point. Seth, we’re that close, reimages the music industry through a consumer marketing framework, using Natalie Merchant to make it concrete. While this article doesnt offfer anything really new it does make seem to crystallize and simplify many older arguments.


Blogosphere by Numbers

April 9, 2007

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Technorati has belatedly released their State of the Blogosphere report, which runs through some of the stats from their index of the Blogosphere. Its kinda like Yahoo or AOL putting out a report on the state of the Web, it may be great directional information but with more possible meanings then an interpretive dance. Some of the highlights of the report:

  1. Japaneses is the dominant language of the Blogosphere, Farsi is growing
  2. 70 million blogs in the Technorati index up from 52 million last time
  3. 1.4 million posts per day spread across these blogs
  4. 120,000 new blogs created everyday up from 100,000 in last report
  5. ~5% of these new blogs are spam-blogs (splogs)

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From WordPress.com to WordPress.org another Odyssey

January 31, 2007

Last week I was inspired by the progress of my ultra-secret project to register a domain name for the project. Thats right my ultra-secret mission now has an ultra-secret domain name to go along with it. Anyway while I was getting things set-up I decided to register a vanity domain and upgrade my blog to what I thought was a more robust, full-featured version of WordPress.

Needless it to say it has been an educational and humbling experience. I’ve been using wordpress for almost a year and I was growing tired of all the hand-holding and restrictions. I wanted to play with some of the plug-ins and widgets Guy Kawasaki is always touting and maybe add some to my blog. Heck, I’ve had an Adsense account for more then a year but I havent collected any of the millions Google is doling out to Dalit bloggers like myself. So, I registered siddiqbello.com, installed the WordPress 2.1 on the server, imported everything from the old blog and flipped the ON switch.

Your reading this on the old blog… Nuff said.

See, what people leave out when they talk of beauty of having ones own installation of wordpress, running on ones own domain, is that with all that freedom comes very little else. I’ve spent the better part of this week trying configure the themes, plug-ins and widgets that make this site run on my new server, while simultaneously trying to understand and configure a bunch of new themes, plug-ins and widgets. Its no easy task.

Check my progress (or lack thereof) here and feel free to let me know what you think. When I have it in a usable form I’ll switch over, but until then its free wordpress all the way.


Pontificate like a Pro: Research Summary

November 12, 2006


(Pontificate 1999)
Two reports have come out this month that are worth taking a look at. The first is from the phoenix of Wall Street, Mary Meeker, who has survived greed and scandals to once again reign as one of the leading Internet pundits. The second is David Sifry’s quarterly report on the “State of the Blogosphere”, which unfortunately continues to use a linear ranking of the Blogosphere rather then adopting my Caste system. If you’er up for a PowerPoint and some good reading then you’d be well served to take a look at both of these reports in detail, but if your happy with the talking points, I’ve summarized them below for you to use when pontificating.
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Blog Castes: The Real Ranking of the Blogoshpere

November 7, 2006


In ancient India, along the scenic Indus Valley, someone came up with a system of social control so good it survives to this day. It was called the Caste system and basically it codified the privileges reserved for the in-crowd and the drudgery dished out to everybody else. While the Caste system is no longer socially acceptable in most places, in a few dwindling pockets, where the light of meritocracy has yet to shine, it thrives. Rural India is one such place. The Blogosphere is another.

Despite the thousand of years that separate the beginning of the Caste system in India and the beginning of personal logs on the web, there is only one major difference between the two systems; in rural India you can never change your Caste while in the Blogosphere it only seems that way.

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5 Reasons Social Media Will Kill Broadcast

August 7, 2006

The image “https://i2.wp.com/www.ja.org/nested/baltimore/crowd.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Vlogs may never replace watching TV and newspapers may not buckle under the weight of blogs, but as the abyss of choice gets deeper, the move away from main stream media (MSM) as the primary content source will only accelerate. The collective output of erstwhile media consumers on blogs, vlogs, social bookmarking and photo sharing sites, along with a host of new online services, will in the next 5 years replace MSM as the dominant media form. Thats right I said it, in 5 years only aging boomers, people that believe Fox News is news and the “Buba’s” in the “fly over states”, will use MSM as their primary source for news and entertainment. US Media, my very own patent pending, copyrighted trademarked catchphrase, is the term I’m using for all the media that we make, revise or steal that others can then consume, remake, or steal. US Media is vastly superior to MSM in 5 key ways, none of which MSM believes are critical, and its along these axises that US Media will destroy MSM.

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