Don’t Like Native Advertising? Start Paying for News.

633408166_51157f74acLately, there’s been a lot of discussion about one of the newest advertising tactics in the journalism world: native advertising.

You might have seen it yourself, if you’ve felt the need to click one of BuzzFeed’s “10 Reasons Why You Should…” list articles.

You’ll have a series of copyright-infringing GIFs, generally stolen in some capacity from other websites, and, at the top of the article, you’ll see that it’s sponsored by Jack Daniels. Or JetBlue. Or whatever.

The idea is that people reading the article will start thinking BuzzFeed isn’t the only company that can put together some fun GIFs to help people avoid reading anything meaningful. That association will, in turn, benefit the brand.

The BuzzFeed / brand relationship is a dubious one at best, but investors are convinced – that’s part of the reason that BuzzFeed just got another $50 million in funding. The real issue for people, though, is that other publications – like The New York Times – are publishing “native advertising” content, too.

This is turning out to be a huge revenue generator for news publications and a great way to build brand awareness for the company. But when branded content starts flowering in every crevice of a news outlet’s website, it becomes more difficult to decide which is good to eat and which is a poisonous, subjective berry.

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Yes, The Goldfinch is Overrated… But Why?

The Goldfinch is overrated - but why?I’m not really qualified to decide what does and doesn’t deserve a Pulitzer. But I’m of the somewhat strong opinion that “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt shouldn’t have made the cut.

Let me break down this epic journey in rambling, poorly plotted, erratically written, Pulitzer-worthy material. And then let me explain why it spells trouble for the book industry if “The Goldfinch” is what we consider great literature. I’d warn you that there are some minor spoilers ahead, kind of, although, since Tartt fails to put anything at stake or develop any meaningful characters (aside from one), there’s really nothing to spoil. You read the book for the writing, put it down, and say: “Huh. Well, guess it’s over.”

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Want to Market Your Band? Start Moving!

Lights, Camera, Visuals.Recently, I found my way to a blog post about giving compelling business presentations and something struck me – the best time to market your band isn’t when you’re sitting behind a keyboard and rattling away on a website or tweeting YouTube clips at people.

It’s when you’re on stage.

And it’s not just the music. Anyone who has been to local shows knows that a good part of the audience is only half-listening to the music. Your job is to convince them that it’s worth paying attention… and the way to do that is to start moving.

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YouTube’s Music Service Could Screw Indie Musicians – Here’s Why

Youtube's premium service means heartbreak for indie musicians.It’s been an uphill battle for indie musicians to make a living. Forever. Dwindling CD sales haven’t helped much, either, along with the pittances paid by streaming radio stations like Pandora and Spotify.

Well, as rumored, YouTube is planning a premium subscription music service now. And, as expected, indie artists are apparently getting way worse deals than the major labels. If they don’t sign onto the new service as it rolls out, they risk being dropped from YouTube “in a matter of days.”

That would be fine if YouTube wasn’t aggressively persuading (ahem, forcing) indies to join the music service.

From The Guardian:

[Trade organization] WIN claims that the company [YouTube] has signed lucrative licensing deals with major labels Universal, Warner and Sony, while demanding that independent labels sign up to inferior terms or face having their videos blocked from YouTube’s free service.

Seem a little harsh? Maybe, you might be thinking, the videos would just be blocked from YouTube’s new music service, not the whole site. According to WIN – and clarified by The Guardian:

“If labels don’t sign up for YouTube’s new paid music service at the (non-negotiable) terms, their entire catalogues will be blocked on YouTube – all of YouTube, not just the new premium bit.”

That means the rug has essentially been ripped out from underneath musicians’ feet. All of the music videos, albums, and songs independent artists have uploaded to YouTube, the things that have gotten thousands upon thousands of views for YouTube… might disappear. If you don’t sign something.

So how did we get here? And is there any escape?

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Hachette v. Amazon: Whose Fault Is It, Anyway?

Amazon and Hachette are fighting over the fundamental pricing of books.If you’ve paid any attention to the book industry, you’ll know by now that Hachette and Amazon are locked in some kind of pricing battle.

The details aren’t that well known, but the strategy is: Amazon disabled the pre-order option for Hachette books, discounts have vanished and some authors have gone completely unlisted.

Meanwhile, Hachette just laid off 30 people (or, in The Wall Street Journal’s more dramatic terms, 3% of its US workforce). The reason? “Softening book sales.”

Hachette isn’t exactly a two-bit publisher. It’s part of a media conglomerate, Lagardère. Famous authors on the roster right now include JK Rowling, Steven Colbert, Malcolm Gladwell and James Patterson.

People don’t really know why Hachette and Amazon are having a stand-off. All they know is that they can’t get the publisher’s books as easily if they’re trying to buy from Amazon. But most speculate that it has something to do with discounting the prices of eBooks.

The real question, then, is this: how do we value books today? And what happens if publishers decide to not renew their contracts with Amazon?

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Bands: Don’t Forget This One Thing When Marketing Online

Bands need to build a local following before going crazy with online marketing.The promise of going viral has never sounded so sweet. From Rebecca Black’s “Friday” to the newly viral and morbidly interesting “Brick in Yo Face” by Stitches, marketing your band online seems like it has magical powers.

One day, you make a YouTube video. The next… well… you’re famous. Right?

Or maybe you’ll find the answer in Facebook and Twitter and ReverbNation, instead. If you spend enough money online and have a good website, won’t that make sure your band gets heard?

If you’ve tried all of this stuff, or you’ve thought about trying it, you might already know the answer. In the scramble to market their music online, bands are forgetting one vital thing:

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3 Ways to Measure Your Book’s Online Marketing Campaign

Measuring your book's online marketing is important.When it comes to online marketing, independent authors like to think they’re ahead of the curve. Social savvy, internet savvy, and savvy in other miscellaneous ways.

But just because you made a Facebook Page and have a Twitter account doesn’t mean that they’re helping sell your eBook.

Online marketing is a mysterious mix of luck and gossip. Whenever social media is brought up – whether by indie authors or bands, or in a corporate boardroom – a reflective hush falls over the crowd. The sound of doubt.

Social media or a blog campaign can help promote your eBook. But you need to know how to measure those efforts to see what’s actually working and what’s just hype (such as paying $599 for social media services). Amazon won’t give you any kind of dashboard to see where sales are coming from, so it’s up to you.

Here are three ways to do it:

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