Why “Humans of New York” Proves Every Cynical Writer & Artist Wrong

Humans of New York is an experiment in digital art & journalism.A few weeks ago, a journalist met the President. The journalist was a blogger who took photographs and talked to people. He’s also the author of The New York Times bestseller, “Humans of New York.” His name is Brandon Stanton and, in late January, he managed to help raise over a million dollars for Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, Brooklyn, a school in one of New York City’s most impoverished neighborhoods… and helped the students and principal meet the President of the United States.

He told the story on a blog. He told the story through Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. And, above all, he told the story through photographs of people talking about life.

Stanton is making a living taking photos and reporting on things. He’s not associated with any media publication. He took the tools technology has made available and used them to make a huge impact.

Stanton’s success isn’t just inspirational, it’s a powerful indictment of the cynicism permeating the art world when it comes to social media, art, and the digital world.

Continue reading

Media Companies: Go Mobile or Become Social Media Serfs

Media companies have to go mobile or they risk becoming serfs in Facebook's kingdom.Media companies are having a hard time trying to get people to pay for digital news. When there are so many sites that just provide headlines and a few paragraphs of sensational context (which is what most people want, anyway), it’s difficult to convince readers that “news” is a product that’s worth any money.

That’s why media companies have come to rely on advertising so heavily. Right now, 69% of all domestic news revenue is tied to advertising. And how do media companies ensure that they get the most potential exposure for advertisers? They bring in traffic. Lots and lots of traffic.

Facebook is responsible for a huge amount of that traffic, so it should be no surprise that the social media giant is enticing publishers with promises of lots of traffic and engagement in exchange for a deal in which, according to The New York Times, “media companies would essentially be serfs in a kingdom that Facebook owns.”

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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:

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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:

Continue reading

Art-Shelf: A Platform that Lets Artists Do Art, Not Marketing

artshelfhomeWhether you’re a painter, a sketch artist or a sculptor, the Internet can be an alluring place to market your art.

But a lot of the time, artists get bogged down by the amount of work it takes to maintain a website, promote their work on social media, and constantly offer new pieces to stay relevant in the noise of the online world.

One of the platforms that’s trying to help change that is Art-Shelf, an online retail start-up that offers artists a place to sell their art, without having to spend the rest of the day marketing and advertising.

I recently spoke with founder Josh King about how the business started and what it’s like to market art online today.

Continue reading

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:

Continue reading