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Streaming: The New Radio & We’re On It

December 16, 2014 Featured News, Marketing No Comments

Spotify_JustCrySadSongsAmong the many benefits that streaming services affords to its patrons, none are as boundless and untamed as the ecosystem of playlists these platforms contain. There is a plethora of playlists for any mood, situation or activity and most of them are curated by everyday people like you and me. Due to the quality of these user-curated playlists, many have garnered large followings over the years. A surprisingly large number of playlists have over 25,000 followers and as many as 500,000! Wowzah.

Now — why is this something to note and how can it help our clients at The Orchard? Well, as terrestrial radio started to teeter, streaming services began to establish themselves as a convenient alternative. Listeners started to tune out of radio and login to stream — many choosing to listen to these expertly crafted playlists. Nowadays, more and more listeners are relying on user-curated content on services like Spotify and Rdio and less so on commercial-based FM radio. Since most content is consumed on mobile platforms, the radio seems to be taking a backseat to its younger streaming sibling.

People colloquially known as “Tastemakers” curate these playlists and in doing so, garner followers. We in Retail Marketing are treating many of these Tastemaker playlists as mini radio stations, promoting our clients’ releases to their creators. We make sure every track that is being pitched is done so to the appropriate playlist — 21st century radio promotion! After a track is added, followers of that playlists are alerted to its inclusion and due to this, streams naturally increase and in turn so does revenue. People are clicking and really listening! We want to raise the quantity of playlists we pitch exponentially in the new year and as a result we will most likely see a large uptake in the amount of tracks streams. Cheers to 2015 and to the new way to radio!

An Approach to Facebook in Early 2015

December 15, 2014 Featured News, Marketing No Comments

Facebook VideoFacebook has announced a trio of changes to their platform in recent months that will finish rolling out this coming January. As they did earlier this year, the social network is working to enhance the user experience and increase revenue, feed their growth in mobile usage and at the same time accelerate the maturation of their video offering. What this means for marketing on the platform is essentially putting more thought into posts, with a tighter focus on mobile, and deploying video as a way of doing both to increase the reach and engagement of your messaging. In my estimation, it also means putting more effort into other platforms, such as Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest to reach the right fans at the right time while driving those users back to your hub.

One of the changes Facebook is making in January is de-emphasizing the marketing post. “Make sure you buy our record at iTunes” accompanied by a link to the retailer just won’t show up much for fans of your page anymore. If you’re not already having a natural conversation with your fans, this will pose problems for how you engage with your audience.

Another change announced at the same time is an increase in the importance of link posts. Facebook’s research shows that users prefer these types of rich link posts to a status that includes a bare link in it or a photo with a link in the caption. Essentially if you paste the link into the status box, Facebook will generate everything you need, including a title, image and summary. You can simply delete the link itself from the status update box once at that point and hit post — as long as the site whose link you are sharing has done everything correctly, of course (more on that later). Facebook will reward this newsworthy content, the entire area becomes clickable for mobile users, and Facebook’s internal research says they are clicked on at twice the rate of captions and plain links.

The last change worth mentioning here is the greater importance of video. Compared to 2013, video on Facebook this year has become an integral part of the experience, with preferential treatment and auto-play capability being given to native video on the platform. This has pushed a massive growth in video views since May. Part of this change has seen native Facebook videos receive 70% more engagement on Facebook than embeds of videos from YouTube on Facebook. Our own campaigns at The Orchard have been in line with this and we’ve seen more engagement overall on Facebook video than YouTube itself. At last report, there were 1 billion views of video on Facebook per day. Couple that with an emphasis to brands on their pages being repositories for photo and video content and you can see the field being prepared for Facebook becoming a major video content platform in 2015. And we’re not even touching on the positive effects this all has for video advertising on the platform.

Taken together I feel it’s important to tackle these changes through these strategies:

  • being more thoughtful in how posts are made on Facebook
  • ensuring the creation of shareable content on platforms outside of your hub
  • driving traffic from those platforms back to your hub, particularly Facebook
  • redoubling or starting efforts at Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest (or whichever platforms make the most sense for your artist or business)

… Continue Reading

3 Creative Album Release Strategies for Artists at Any Level

December 8, 2014 Featured News, Marketing No Comments

Sonicbids_ReleaseStrategiesThis article, written by Founder of New Artist Model, Dave Kusek, originally appeared on Sonicbids. We’re excited to be working with them to exchange industry tips and trends for your business!

Today, with all the new technology and different ways to reach your fans, there are more ways to release your music than you can count. As cool as it may be to have all these options, it’s sometimes hard to decide which release strategy is best for you and your music career. After all, not everyone can successfully release a secret album like Beyoncé – it requires a certain fan base size and dedication.

All these options, however, mean that you can really create a music release strategy that engages and excites your fans. The release strategy you use depends on your career level, fanbase size, online presence, genre, and career focus. For example, a band that really emphasizes their live shows may devise a different strategy than a band with a bigger fanbase that connects mostly online via YouTube covers and other videos. In this article, we’ll explore three different album release strategies and the pros and cons of each.

1. The constant release

This strategy isn’t an “album release” as we traditionally know it, but many musicians these days – especially those in the early stages of their careers – are putting it to good use. Instead of releasing one album once a year, shorten the cycle to just one song release once a month, every two months, or whatever you can manage. Each individual release will have its own mini-marketing plan that’s executed online with social media, your website, your email list, and your connections with bloggers and other influencers.

This strategy is great for musicians just starting out and/or with smaller fanbases. By constantly releasing, you’re staying at the front of fans’ minds and giving them more opportunities to engage, share, and purchase. This strategy also works great for cover songs. Karmin, Pomplamoose, and Pentatonix have all used this strategy to great effect on YouTube to grow their following and reach new fans.

On its own, this strategy may not be the best option for a more established band. Releasing one song at a time might not drive the amount of revenue you need to tour extensively and pay team members like your manager. Many artists will combine a more traditional album release with a constant cover strategy to maintain fans’ awareness while they’re in the studio or on tour. This can be a very important technique that you can use from time to time to keep your audience engaged.

2. The secret release

We’ve seen many established artists pull off the secret album release strategy recently. Perhaps the most famous was Beyoncé’s self-titled album, which was released on iTunes in December of 2013 without any build-up. As the name implies, you release your album with no pre-promotion or marketing. If you want to turn it into a bit of a mystery or scavenger hunt, you could release a few cleverly hidden hints on social media.

The secret release is a really cool way to give your fans something really unexpected and exciting and incentivizes them to share and spread the secret. It can even spread like social media wildfire if executed correctly. But if you’re just starting out and haven’t reached the point where you can tour nationally, this probably isn’t the strategy for you. For this strategy to work, you need to have a large, engaged, and dedicated fanbase that will share the news. Without these elements in place, your secret album release could remain entirely a secret with absolutely no one knowing about it or buying it – not a good situation.

3. The exclusive preview

It’s pretty common to release a single as a preview to your album before the official release date. You can step this up a notch, however, and make that preview exclusive to help drive engagement. You can choose to make it secret by hiding it in a game or app, or hosting a secret show previewing the album to drive word-of-mouth and social media engagement. On the other end of the spectrum, you can use the album preview to drive revenue to your live show.

This is a strategy that both established artists and those who are just starting out can utilize. To give you some creative ideas for how to execute it, look into how Skrillex previewed the album Recess exclusively on the Alien Ride app, or how Coldplay released lyrics early in the form of a scavenger hunt in libraries across the globe. If you’re further along in your career, you might be able to create a helpful partnership with a company, game, or app to preview your music. You could also give prominent and influential bloggers an exclusive preview just for their readers.

If you’re in the early stages of your career, you can still use exclusive previews, but you may need to simplify your approach. For instance, The Wild Feathers released their album early at their live shows in the week leading up to the official release. On top of that, each album sold at their live shows included two CDs – one to keep and one to share. This strategy incentivized fans to buy tickets to the show and buy the album – that’s hitting two different revenue streams with one stone! You could work with bloggers to exclusively release your album, too. Target bloggers that write about artists at your career level.

Case Study: Machine Head Tease Bloodstone & Diamonds with Hidden Interactive Clips

Interactive Page for BlogWhen thinking of Metal legends, Bay area rockers Machine Head are among the first to jump to mind. Having just released their eighth studio album, Bloodstone & Diamonds, on November 10 via Nuclear Blast, these guys have been pushing the envelope and finding new ways to melt faces for over twenty years.

As could be expected, fans were chomping at the bit to listen to Bloodstone & Diamonds as soon as possible. Ahead of release, the band unleashed two intriguing album trailers and an epic video for the track “Now We Die,” all of which embraced the ancient alchemy-influenced visual style of Bloodstone & Diamonds. Still, we wanted to give the fans more, and thus the Bloodstone & Diamonds Interactive Landing Page was born.

Aside form the blood, sweat, tears and time put in to creating the music for Bloodstone & Diamonds, a ton of effort and care went into creating the overall visual and physical package of the album, which included a 48-page hardcover media book designed to look like a long-lost alchemy text. We thought this art deserved a home in the digital world as well as the physical, so we started brainstorming. The songs on Bloodstone & Diamonds are incredibly dynamic, ranging from tranquil, meditative chant to pure, soul-crushing Metal. To give fans a taste of this, we created short clips (30 seconds or less) of ten tracks on the album to accompany full track streams of “Killers and Kings” and “Now We Die,” which had already premiered. We then turned to our brilliant designer Airene Resurreccion to help us marry these visual and auditory elements on an interactive landing page to live on Machine Head’s website.

When fans first arrive at the page, they simply see the Bloodstone & Diamonds album art and release information with instructions to unveil the hidden content below. Once they started exploring, alchemy-style images would slowly fade into view, each one embedded with a track clip or stream. Twelve images teased the twelve tracks on the album, and fans were given a taste of the visual experience of Bloodstone & Diamonds as well as the auditory.

The page launched on October 27, and was met with immediate enthusiasm from fans and the media alike. Between October 27 and November 17 (one week post-street), the page received 6,000 unique visits. Overall, the Interactive Landing Page added value to the Bloodstone & Diamonds campaign by uniquely engaging fans (self-titled ‘Head Cases’) and igniting a flurry of press attention from Metal Shock Finland, Brave Words, Metal Storm and more.

Did we get you in the mood for some Metal? Check out the interactive album stream of Bloodstone & Diamonds below and keep an eye out for upcoming tour dates!

10 Email Subject Line Words to Avoid if You’re A Musician

November 20, 2014 Featured News, Marketing No Comments

inbox_flickruser10chThis article, written by L.A.-based publicist Ebony Jeanette, originally appeared on Sonicbids. We’re excited to be working with them to exchange industry tips and trends for your business!

There are many reasons why that took-you-all-night-to-write-and-now-you’re-late-for-practice email you crafted to spread the word about how incredibly awesome your new album is got deleted — or even worse, triggered and flagged as spam. Perhaps the reason lies in the lack of power and punch of your subject line. Or, maybe it was your last-second word choice that damned your announcement to languish forever in the spam folder. If you used one of the 10 words in the list we’re about to share, the latter may be true.

Much like crafting that perfect pick-up line for the out-of-your-league guy or gal at a bar, the subject lines of your emails and press releases can be a major point of stress. Going over the coolest things you could possibly say without coming off like a complete moron mirrors the dreaded process of rereading and retyping subject lines for length, tone, spelling, and overall catchiness. Will it be deleted or even make it into the inbox without triggering spam filters?

Email intelligence experts at have identified the most common words and phrases that mail filters such as Spam Assassin, Postini, IronPort, Barracuda, and Outlook mark as spam, due these words’ association with “junk mail” (and no one wants that clogging up his or her inbox). Many of these no-no words are used in music writing and can significantly increase the chances of your email being sucked into the black hole of rejection known as the spam folder. By avoiding these 10 words in your email subject lines (view an extensive list here), you’ll dramatically increase your chance of besting spam filters and actually get your message opened and read.

Top 10 words to avoid in email subject lines:

  • Free
  • Available now
  • Download
  • Discount
  • Guarantee
  • Sign up now
  • Offer
  • Win
  • Order now
  • Thousands
  • Bonus tip: Also avoid using percentages of any kind (100%, 50%, etc.) in subject lines.

A killer subject line is hard to come by without a little creativity. Instead of saying “available now,” try “out today” or “new release.” Instead of “sign up,” use “invitation” or “let’s connect.” Stumped for synonyms? Use for similar words and ways to get your point across.

When choosing your words, always remember that first impressions make lasting impressions. So the next time you get ready to crank out that email, triple-check this list to make sure your subject lines stay spam-free.

For more on email marketing best practices check out this Daily Rind post from the archives. 

About The Orchard

The Orchard is a pioneering music, video and film distribution company and top-ranked Multi Channel Network operating in more than 25 global markets. Founded in 1997, we empower businesses and creators in the entertainment industry.

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