5 Boston Music Tech Start-Ups You Should Know About

Boston Music Tech Meet UpWe might already be entering the era of music business 3.0.

That’s at least what the CEO of music technology start-up Gideen told me in my recent interview with him.

I like the term. It acknowledges that streaming and downloadable songs (music business 2.0) existed before this new wave of music tech start-ups.

And also acknowledges that streaming and downloads are, slowly but surely, failing musicians.

To be a musician has always been a very poor career move, but you could at least count on album sales to stay (kinda) afloat. That option’s gone, because most people aren’t willing to spend money on music. Digital downloads are dropping. Streaming pays tiny shards of pennies to artists.

So what kind of technology can actually help bands make music, distribute music and get paid? I went to a Boston Music Tech Meetup last week to find out.

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3 New Ways You Can Sell CDs at Shows

Bands can still sell CDs at shows, but you have to think differently.It’s harder than ever -literally, ever – for bands to sell CDs at shows. People just don’t buy them anymore. CD sales are at an all-time low.

In December 2000, 785.14 albums were sold.

In 2013, that number dropped to 289.41 million. This past January, sales reached another record weekly low.

My laptop doesn’t even have a place to put CDs. Itunes has been offering a digital alternative for years. Streaming radio stations like Spotify & Pandora have made the process of music-to-ears even smoother… and free-er.

Iphones and iPads don’t play CDs.

But bands keep trying to sell them shows, because it’s still one of the most straightforward ways to make money from music. But trying to sell a CD at a show full of music lovers with smartphones is like trying to sell a DVD to someone with Netflix. Or iTunes. Or Amazon. Or Google Play.

Trust me, they’ve moved onto something else.

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Forget iTunes & Pandora: Gideen Offers Bands A New Way to Make Money Online

Online marketing for music has been one of the most hyped up things in the past few years. It seems simple, right? You release a song online. Promote it through some savvy Facebook marketing or YouTube videos.

Then, suddenly, you’re Viral.

As most bands know, the reality is different. You can drop $50 “boosting” a Facebook post for $0 in return. YouTube channels become haunted houses of cobwebs and shakily filmed videos of you playing in an empty bar. And streaming stations have destroyed a mid-market brand of listener and both Spotify and Pandora pay musicians terribly.

In the pursuit of precious exposure, musicians are leaving revenue far, far behind.

I haven’t yet come across a reliable way for bands to make (decent) money online… but I think I might have found one on the horizon. Gideen is a start-up, an online music platform that taps the best of every world to create what CEO Heiko Schmidt calls “a 3.0 music business model,” which casts aside the $1 song completely.

Fueled by fans, musicians, advertisers, artists of all stripes and a lot of songs, Gideen is hoping to revolutionize traditional licensing and revenue models in the music industry. Right now, the company is hosting an IndieGoGo campaign to fund it all.

Here’s what Schmidt had to say about Gideen, music marketing and the music industry in general:

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Net Neutrality’s Meaning for Bloggers, Writers, and Musicians

Net neutrality has a lot of implications for bloggers, writers and musicians... but which are going to come true?Last week, the FCC struck down something called “net neutrality.” You might have seen headlines and decided it was boring. Maybe, for a little while, you were curious about the ruling’s meaning.

No one really knows how things are going to work in a post net-neutrality world. But there are a lot of alarm bells ringing. Let’s break it down and then talk about what this could mean for bloggers, writers and musicians.

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Why People Can’t See Your Band’s Facebook Posts

Facebook posts are entering a black hole. Even the hypnotic ones.You may have noticed something if you have a Facebook Page to promote your band – fewer and fewer people are seeing it. It’s not that people have decided to “dislike” the Page. It’s that they honestly, truly, can’t see your band’s Facebook posts anymore.

What once used to be a ripe old 50% of your fans might now be closer to 30%. Embarrassing things like “16 People Saw This Post” show up in Facebook’s sophisticated analytics captions.

Why’s all this happening? Because Facebook wants money.

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What Musicians Can Learn from YouTube Millionaires

Musicians can learn from YouTube millionaires.A few years ago, I saw a video kicking around Facebook called “How to Trick People Into Thinking You’re Good Looking.”

It was a standard YouTube video: a webcam photoshoot of some person, doing something. This video was pretty funny, and featured a monologue by someone named Jenna Marbles.

Today, Jenna Marbles’ YouTube earnings are valued at over $4 million. “How to Trick People Into Thinking You’re Good Looking” has over 55,000,000 views. The channel for Jenna Marbles videos has over a billion views.

Where’s all this money coming from? YouTube. How? Ads.

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7 Things Making Musicians (and the Music Industry) Go Out of Business

The music industry - and musicians - are struggling.I recently stumbled across a really interesting documentary – “Unsound.” No, it’s not out yet. In fact, maybe it never will be. Right now, it’s in the funding stages on IndieGoGO and I beseech everyone to go help make it become a reality. Writers, artists, musicians – anyone who does creative stuff needs to donate to the campaign.

It’s not really a donation, anyway, since you get the movie out of the deal.

Unsound is about the increasingly harmful effects of “Free” on the economy – from journalism to music. That’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while, too. Mostly, I want to know why the creative economy is in such peril. So, today, let’s focus on music.

Here’s what’s happening to the industry, and why musicians everywhere are struggling:

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5 Ways Your Band Should Be Using Facebook

Bands can learn a lot from the Facebook Page of Dead Letter Circus.Facebook for bands is a Rubik’s Cube. If it works, it can really work. But if it doesn’t… it’s embarrassing.

A lot of bands use Facebook on a less-than-monthly basis, but there’s some power to steadily creating a stream of content for fans. In fact, I realized the impact of social media when I was waiting to buy a CD, “The Catalyst Fire” by Dead Letter Circus, for almost three months.

That’s kind of a miracle. The “album” as a concept is dying because singles are selling so much better. Not only that, “anticipation” for a creative product is almost a foreign feeling on the Internet, where we’re entitled to instant downloads and streaming.

But there I was, waiting impatiently for October 29 when I could finally buy an album that had been on YouTube since August and available in Australia for months.

So what happened? Social media. Specifically, Facebook. Dead Letter Circus – and what I suspect is some help from the band’s album label, UNFED – brought social media marketing to some next level craziness and it worked. The album debuted at #2 on the ARIA Album Chart.

Here’s what any band can learn about social media from Dead Letter Circus:

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3 Social Media Mistakes We Can Learn from the Concert that Never Was

Bands and businesses have a lot in common when it comes to social media strategies... and mistakes.

This post originally appeared on MarchPR.com

I recently tried to go to a concert here in Boston. I won’t name the venue or the bands, even the most popular of which is pretty much unknown. The show was on a Monday night. My mission was to see one band in particular, but I didn’t know when they, or any band, were going to start playing.

I embarked on a treasure hunt to put together whatever clues I could find. Now, if you’re in PR or know anything about PR, you’ve probably heard the term “messaging” before. Messaging is the cornerstone of any PR campaign. Companies do a lot of research and work very hard to make sure that a message is on-target before sending it out into the world. A good message is consistent on all platforms and channels.

None of these bands had good messaging. The club didn’t have good messaging, either. And, as I tried to piece things together, I couldn’t help but think about all the different ways a solid social media strategy could have helped.

Here’s what I noticed:

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How Pandora Could Help Bands Sell Tickets to Shows

eltenelevenLast week, I ventured out to see a band I had discovered on Pandora – El Ten Eleven. I’ve known about them since 2009, when their song, “My Only Swerving,” emerged onto one of my radio stations.

Ever since I graduated college and moved to a place where bands actually visit, I’ve been periodically checking to see whether El Ten Eleven is making any East Coast tours. But they usually don’t, because they’re a West Coast band and incredibly obscure.

After all, they’re not just an instrumental band, they’re a duo. Yup, that’s right – there’s a drummer and bassist-guitarist guy. When they finally did come around to Boston, I grabbed tickets. I brought friends.

“Who are they?” Friends asked.

“Don’t worry about it, I found them on Pandora,” I said. And I wasn’t the only one.

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