We love sharing recommendations here at BAMM, so if we happen to come across a site we like we’re more than happy to highlight them. Infact, we believe that – in terms of creating the ethos of a ‘new music industry’ model – a community spirit is more important than ever, so it’s a pleasure for us to speak to some of the people behind the blogs we read (and you should too). We’re going to feature plenty of these interviews, and also guest posts from prominent bloggers, so keep your eyes peeled!
Today we’re chatting with Chris Bracco of the frankly essential Tight Mix Blog.
What inspired you to start your blog?
In the spring of my freshman year at Penn State, I was in a band and became really interested in the “digital revolution” and how it was affecting both the recording and music industries. I started my blog back in 2007 as a place for me to archive and comment on all the information I was soaking up at the time, mainly from other blogs like Music Think Tank and hypebot. [N.B We've got interviews with both of them coming soon]
In May 2010, I decided to actually start telling people about it! Haha. Things kind of took off from there. I’m really happy with the tight-knit group of readers I’ve amassed over the past year, and humbled that they find it to be an interesting source.
Your site has gathered a large following. Do you feel there’s a growing online community of musical artists/producers who are eschewing the traditional music industry?
Absolutely. I mean, just look at Music Think Tank for example. Back in 2007 they were publishing an article every couple of days, and the articles were typically long-form essays that asked questions and stirred up conversation about the changing industry. It’s audience was mainly industry thinkers and forward-thinking indie artists interested in how they can adapt to the changing industry. Now that many artists have figured out how to adapt and be successful, the articles over at MTT seem to revolve around experiences, case studies, strategies, promotion tips, etc. Their audience has definitely shifted to cater indie artists looking for ways to be successful by their own means, which I think is great.
Do you think digital technology has allowed the music industry to become more ‘democratized’?
In some ways, definitely. The fact that anyone can build a decent recording studio with a small amount of cash and call themselves an artist is both exciting and frightening, though, isn’t it? Advances in recording technology has been leveling the playing field for musicians over the past decade, and we’re now at the point where anyone can plug a keyboard and mic into their computer and become an instant sensation on YouTube by covering the latest pop jam and tagging it properly.
I love that it is now way easier for anyone to pursue a career in music. It means that way more hidden gems around the world will be discovered. But now since anyone can do it easily, it also means there is going to be way more terrible music floating around the web. Everything has it’s trade-off’s.
Do you think cross-platform/multimedia production increasingly important within music-making? And digital marketing too?
I’m happy to finally see that more and more bands are opening up to digital marketing, social media, and the web in general. Many artists are finally starting to understand the importance of having an active presence on the web, and the benefits of publishing consistently awesome content for their fans. If you’re an artist and aren’t accessible to your fans, or interacting with them, or directing them to your own website, then you’re missing a huge opportunity grow as an artist.
What are some great strategies for bands to gain exposure online? Is this a field in which the ‘rules’ are constantly shifting?
New rules, ideas, and strategies for music promotion are plentiful on the web now, they are always changing, and they are totally easy to find. Just peruse Music Think Tank’s archives for twenty minutes and I guarantee you will pick up something new. However, one “rule” that continues to hold constant (over several industries, not just music) is that if you want to be successful, you have to find a way to create interesting content, create it often, and deliver it to the correct audiences. Our attention spans have deteriorated over the last decade. Isn’t it down to around seven seconds now? That’s insane. On the web, you have roughly seven seconds to impress, inspire, and convince someone to listen to your music, become a fan, and buy your stuff, otherwise they are moving right along. Nobody said it would be easy, and if someone did, then they were lying to you.
Before I talk strategies, I want to talk about the first step. So many bands miss the mark right from the get go. To gain any kind of exposure on the web, you need to be accessible, and gather the right tools for the job. If you can’t be found by doing a quick Google search, then you’re toast. This means you need your own .com, preferably “yourbandname.com”. You need a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a YouTube channel (in the very least). You need a mailing list (I recommend Mailchimp). You need a way to easily share your music for promotional purposes and press people like bloggers (SoundCloud, Official.fm, Dropbox, and Bandcamp are great for this).
Once you have your touch points established and toolkit assembled, you can begin to think about how to use these tools to gain exposure. It’s easiest to start with the people you already know – friends and family. These are the people you want to get excited right from the beginning. Invite them out to shows, and offer them interesting things for joining your mailing list, liking your Facebook page, subscribing to your YouTube channel, etc. Once you’ve got a nice base to work from, then start to plan out what kind of content you want to create, and when you want to release the content. Don’t release all of your content at once, spread it out over time so you can stay interesting without overwhelming your fans.
If you’re strapped for cash, consider raising money through a platform like Kickstarter so you can make your next album release a reality. Approach the campaign as though you will not be able to create the album unless you receive this support from your fans.
Also, don’t be afraid to take a risk and try something new or controversial. That’s one of the most exciting parts about being an artist.
Who are you listening to right now?
I try to listen to everything. How am I doing?
Along similar lines, are there any particular tech/media entities who you feel are doing great work at the moment?
I am an enormous fan of the WordPress platform as a base for artist website development. In the music industry, the underdogs are usually the ones who seem to get it, and understand how to create incredible experiences on the web. Rdio is a great example of this, and I think they are well worth the price tag. It’s going to be tough for them to beat out Spotify, though, which sucks. Rexly is another interesting music tech company that just popped up, who I will be keeping my eye on. The incredible people over at CASH Music really get it, and deserve way more recognition than they receive. Bandcamp is great, of course.
You can read more from Chris at Tight Mix.