How, Why & Where To Press Up A Vinyl Record.

This is a much needed update of a post that first appeared in Buzzsonic.com (way back in March of 2008!).

I’ve updated the links and information  to bring things bang up to date. I thought it was worth reviving, simply because there is a massive renaissance in interest (and sales) in vinyl records, a format virtually killed off by major record labels in their crude attempts to get us to buy everything again on CD.

“Vinyl sales are at their highest level for 15 years, according to figures from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and the Official Charts Company.
Just over 780,000 vinyl albums were sold in 2013 – the largest number since 817,000 were sold in 1997. The 2013 figure also constitutes a 101 per cent rise on 2012 sales.” (The Telegraph)

Now that we’re swamped by a billion and one MP3 downloads from a bazillion bands, there’s a absence of scarcity, fans with musical ADD and bands are having to get increasingly creative to even get five minutes of attention (let alone that Warholian 15!).

MP3 Marketing Tips, Press Vinyl Records

 

The Ease of Digital Distribution

OK then, its nothing short of amazing that today, theoretically you can easily have your music on sale, Worldwide in the biggest music retail store on the planet. Without a tour, without a manager and even without a record deal. You can be based in Brighton, UK  and someone in Alaska or Australia or Russia (or wherever) can download your music without leaving the house. You don’t have to leave the house to get it on sale either.

Also, if you signed up with a good distributor, you could be keeping around 80% of the retail price too (assuming you’re working as an independent). Compare that to the old school record label deal where you’d be lucky to get 15%.

99th floor elevators 12 inch

99th Floor Elevators

I must admit, when I first saw my music on sale on the iTunes store it was exciting, as it was another ‘career landmark’ for me, but as music career landmarks went it really was no comparison to the day I walked into the Virgin Megastore (RIP) on Oxford Street, London, the day of its release in 1996 when the original version of the 99th Floor Elevators ‘I’ll Be There‘, went on sale.

There it was, prominently displayed in a rack with all the other big 12 inch releases of the week and there it was in the big HMV just up the road too. More importantly to me, there it was in stock and in the top 10 buzz chart in Trax Records in Soho, ten minutes walk away from the hustle of the London’s West End. A few days later ‘I’ll Be There’ had gatecrashed the national UK pop and dance charts.

I used to spend a lot of money in dance music specialist Trax Records back in the days in the late 80s when I had to travel 160 miles by coach from my home in South Yorkshire to seek out those elusive Euro imports and Belgian New Beat gems that only Trax had.

Making A Difference

And that is the point of this article. In a world where you don’t even have to leave the house to get the latest 12 inch remix or latest indie release or even pay for music anymore, how do you as an artist make a difference when everybody is a digital record label and everybody can sit next to Elton John and the Beatles on the virtual record shelf?

“It’s been well documented in recent years that vinyl sales are on the rise, but who is buying the shiny black discs, and can the antiquated format really be sustained in a digital world?” ‘Why Wont Vinyl Die?’ (Sabotage Times)

The New Vinyl Phenomenon

If you’ve more than a just passing interest in the state of the music industry you may have noticed a recent surge of interest and press on the apparent vinyl revival.

“This year’s Record Store Day was the UK’s biggest yet, racking up 30% more album sales than during 2013’s event. 245 British shops participated in the sales bonanza on 19 April, which saw particularly good results for the Pixies, David Bowie and Tame Impala” (The Guardian)

Pie And Vinyl Documentary

So, there’s no vinyl pressing plants left anyway right? Very wrong. There’s a handful of pressing plants across the USA, UK and Europe, manufacturers in Australia, Japan and Russia and others dotted around the rest of the world.

“While sales only account for a small percentage of the overall market, vinyl sales are growing fast as a new generation discovers the magic of 12 inch artwork, liner notes and the unique sound of analogue records, often accompanied by a download code for mp3s.” (Daily Mail Oct 2013)  

Pressing up a release on vinyl is undoubtedly more expensive than CD but as a limited run single or album its more of an event and even a great PR exercise. Kickstarter and other crowdfunding outlets have also proved to an invaluable source of funding for hard up bands planning deluxe vinyl pressing runs.

“On a day-to-day basis, Music Review receives 10 – 30 digital download codes/links a day. That’s in the region of 300 – 900 albums a month. That’s too much music for our small team to meaningfully listen to. With the advent of technology, just about anyone can release an album nowadays, but when it comes to vinyl, the story is very different. Unlike the digital revolution, there are fairly large barriers of entry to get a vinyl pressed, which means that only the most serious and only the most in-demand would consider it as a pursuit.”(MusicReview.co.za)

Sculpting Sound:The Art of Vinyl Mastering

 The Vinyl Pressing Process:From Studio Master to Plastic Disc

Creating a record is a complex process, but essentially breaks down into six separate steps.

1. Mastering: A mastered CD is brought to a vinyl press. Two main changes must occur to begin the process of audio mastering, tonal balancing and level adjustment.

2. Cutting: Once the mastered version is finished, the track will be cut into lacquer. A digitally created track will be converted into an analogue wave for the cutting lathe. Transferred through an amplifier, the wave travels down the arm of a diamond-cutting stylus and onto a rotating lacquer disc.

3. Stampers: The lacquer or vinyl master is delivered to the pressing plant. The plant completes the following steps:

  •  The vinyl master is covered with a thin spray and dipped in a bath of electrolyte. A current is passed through the solution and the silver-sprayed lacquer becomes coated in nickel which creates a negative image of the vinyl.
  •  A second generation negative is created and the nickel plate is peeled from this lacquer to become the stamper. The stamper represents a negative image of one side of the vinyl.
  • Two stampers are needed to press up both an A and B sided record.

4. Test Pressings: With both stampers in place, a “puck” of vinyl is introduced into the press. Two labels are placed above and below the puck and the press is closed. In order to flow seamlessly into the grooves of the stamper, the vinyl is heated up to 200 C.

It is then rapidly cooled so that the vinyl can be immediately lifted out of the press. This whole process takes approximately 25 seconds. Normally, a short pressing of 10 copies is made first. These “test pressings” are sent to the record label for approval.

5. Labels: Many people are under the misconception that a “white label” is much cheaper than producing a professionally designed four-colour label. The real expense, however, comes from having the label incorporated into the vinyl. The colour of the label really makes no difference in this process.

6. Artwork: Image is key in almost every industry, making the music industry no exception. Great consideration should go into the label and its packaging, as well as the marketing accompanying its promotional push.

For a rough guide as to how much music you can fit on a vinyl record Nashville veterans United Record Pressings have a useful FAQ and quick reference.

  • 7″ – 4:30 minutes per side @ 45 rpm; 6:00 minutes per side @ 33 1/3 rpm
  • 10″ – 9:00 minutes per side @ 45 rpm; 12:00 minutes per side @ 33 1/3 rpm
  • 12″ – 12:00 minutes per side @ 45 rpm; 18:00 minutes per side @ 33 1/3 rpm

The Dying Art Of Pressing Vinyl Records

And there’s more record manufacturing tutorials here and here.

Some pressing plants, like United Records Pressings in Nashville are offering vinyl + digital package deals which includes a secure digital music hosting service, custom digital download coupons with unique one-time-use codes, packaged together. With the popularity of new USB turntables kids can plug their vinyl straight into their computer and rip to MP3 anyway.

Jack White’s Third Man Records Tour United Records Pressings Nashville

If you’re looking for a vinyl pressing quote do take into account that there is a huge amount of variables/possibles (quantity, vinyl size, coloured vinyl, artwork) and generally speaking, the more you have pressed the cheaper the amount per unit. Also, if you need a repress then you wont have the expense of having plates to make up. Disc cutting and processing (metalwork) is the biggest single outlay in the whole process.

Also be aware of the difference between an actual vinyl pressing plant and a vinyl broker.

If you know what you’re doing, then dealing directly with the pressing plant of your choice is the way to go. If you’re a complete newbie, then using a third party broker – who may well cost a bit more- but who takes care of every part of the process , including dealing with the pressing plant, makes a lot of sense.

As for vinyl distribution, well for these short runs a band/artist or DJ would be better served selling discs at gigs and via mail order using TopSpin and Bandcamp and using Paypal on their own website. There’s also other mail order options like CDBaby and Hifidelics and mail order behemoth Amazon.

Such is the fragile nature of the vinyl distribution business that many of the once thriving vinyl specialists have disappeared, leaving a narrow selection of ultra niche companies and major label offshoots.

If you have a release in Florida you don’t want to be trusting your stock with a distributor thousands of miles away in California. DIY for short runs. Vinyl record mailers you can get here or here in the USA. Here and here in the UK.

“The Nashville-based United Record Pressing will nearly double the volume of records it’s able to create, which it currently does 24 hours a day, six days a week to the tune of 30-40,000 pieces of vinyl per day. The company will bring 16 new presses online, some they had already and some purchased from shuttered competitors, by the end of the year.

The move is illustrates the success of vinyl in recent years — 76.2 million units in overall sales so far this year — which has exploded in the wake of Record Store Day, launched in 2007.” (Billboard May 2014)

If you want to see what your tracks would sound like on vinyl you can get a one off 7″ cut for around $50 from Custom Records (in the US), who’ll even go as far as pressing it in colour vinyl and giving it a picture sleeve for an extra $58. In Europe you can find these ‘lathe cuts’ at Dr Dub in Austria and Dub Studio in Bristol. There are a few more, including legendary lathe cutter Peter King in New Zealand.

Pressing Plants and Vinyl Brokers

With many, many thanks to all at ‘The Secret Society of Lathe Trolls’ which has proven to be an incredible resource for anything to do with vinyl pressings, manufacturing, mastering and anything remotely related!

USA Pressings:

Archer Record Pressing – Detroit, Michigan
Quality Record Pressings – Salina, Kansas
Erika Records – Downey, California
United Record Pressing – Nashville,Tennessee
Morphius – Baltimore, Maryland
Alpha Record Services – Plantation, Florida
RecordPressing.com – San Fransisco, California
Trutone – New Jersey, NJ
Record Tech Inc – Camarillo, California
Bill Smith Custom Records  – El Segundo, California
Musicol Recording – Columbus, Ohio
Furnace MFG – Fairfax, Virginia (Broker)

European Pressings

Phonopress (Italy)
Tail Records – Sweden
Vic-Tone Records – Sweden
Key Production – London, UK (Broker)
Curved Pressings – London, UK
Sound Performance – London, UK (Broker)
Phoenix Of Vinyl – London, UK
The Vinyl Factory – London, UK
JTS Studio – London, UK  (Broker)
Vinyl Records – Russia
Magnetic Mastering – France
My45 – Germany
Optimal Media – Germany
Celebrate Records – Germany
Rand Muzik – Germany
Flight 13 Duplication – Germany
MPO – France
Record Industry – Netherlands
Foon Vinyl – Netherlands
GZ Vinyl – Czech Republic

ROTW

Rip-V – Montreal, Canada
Samo Media – Canada (Broker)
Zenith Records – Victoria, Australia
Toyo Kasei – Japan
Tuff Gong – Jamaica
Polysom – Brazil

Related Reading On Vinyl Pressings & the Vinyl Revival

Worldwide Vinyl Pressing Plants (Mono Equipped)
The Truth About Selling Vinyl; Independents React to Amazon’s 745% Rise in Record Sales (TheVinylFactory.com)
Music Industry Survival Guide:Everything You Need to Know About Vinyl (Tunecore) PDF
Vinyl Revival Continues as LP Sales Reach Highest Level In More Than A Decade (BPI)
The Baffling Revival of the Vinyl LP (TheWeek.com)
Vinyl Frontier: The Music-lovers Behind London’s Big Record Revival (London Evening Standard)
The Vinyl Revival:From The Frontline (Clash Music)
75 Percent of Topspin’s Sales Are Physical (DigitalMusicNews)
The Secret Society of Lathe Trolls (Lathe Trolls Forum)
The Rebirth of Cool: The Turntable Strikes Back (DigitalTrends.com)
Your New Favourite Record Company. How Kickstarter is Igniting the Vinyl Revival (Shiny Shiny)
How to Reissue a Record (Classic Records)

Stop Making Viral Videos. Start Making a YouTube Content Strategy

By Lucy Blair & Caroline Bottomley at Radar Music Videos.

Devising A Content Strategy For YouTube

It’s an inescapable fact that YouTube is now the world’s largest music streaming site, and also its second biggest search engine.

As YouTube continues to mature as a content platform and revenue stream, it’s more important than ever for record labels and artists to have a solid content strategy in place for their YouTube content.

YouTube Content Strategy

“YouTube logo” by Rego Korosi via Creative Commons

But with over 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, how do you optimise content creation and make sure your content stands out? We speak to key music industry figures at record labels and MCNs to put together a two-part best practice guide to devising a content strategy for anyone in the music industry working with YouTube.

Part One

  • What’s Possible on YouTube?
  • Developing A Strategy
  • Content Checklist

Part Two

  • Content Scheduling
  • Content and Channel Optimisation
  • Collaborations
  • Measures of Success

PART ONE

What’s Possible on YouTube? Your first step is to identify your target audience and what you want to achieve on the platform. Building subscribers is the foundation for success, whatever you decide success will be. Jeremy Rosen, The Orchard’s Director of Audience Development, outlines the possibilities:

“Ultimately, building a successful channel gives the artist or label a large marketing platform. It can be a creative outlet, a good way to connect with fans visually, a place to test out material, and even a primary revenue source. As tools like Google+ integration mature, I estimate it will also become an important direct-to-consumer hub for artists.”

That direct connection to fans and the increasing importance of streaming music represent the main opportunities for Laura Bruneau, Anjunabeats’ Label Executive:

“YouTube is one of the main platforms where consumers stream music, especially younger audiences. Having a great content strategy means more people will find your music, play your music, and hopefully buy your music. And while they’re streaming they’re earning you revenue too. With the boom of streaming in 2014 with Spotify, Beats Music, iTunes Radio and of course YouTube Music, this is a key platform you can’t afford to ignore.”

So, marketing possibilities on YouTube relate to:

  • Discovery
  • Revenue
  • Cross-promotion
  • Up-selling / creating a D2C sales hub
  • Artist creativity
  • Fan relationships
  • Developing A Strategy

To develop a content strategy, work on tying in your on-YouTube goals to your off-YouTube goals.

Artists and labels will naturally need to focus on creating different kinds of content, according to Jon Baltz, INDMusic’s co-founder and Vice President:

“An artist that is about to go on tour should release videos that further their tour, reminding the audience where they will be and when they will be there. A label on the other hand is juggling release schedules for several artists and tours. The label should be producing art tracks (videos with still image and audio), lyric videos, and official music videos, with a focus on upcoming releases.”

Should established and new artists create different kinds of content on YouTube? Yes, according to Laura Bruneau:

“The most important distinction between an established artist and a new artist is the size of their current audience. If you have an established artist with a big audience, you can focus on creating more ambitious and interactive YouTube experiences. For example, live-streaming or Google+ Hangouts On Air are examples of content that I would recommend more for established artists than a new artist, as you know you have sufficient numbers for your audience to be engaged in a live event. For a new artist, you need to build their personality on the channel alongside their brand. A good way to do this is to create a fan-led, pre-recorded interview series like our ‘Tea With Anjuna’ series, where fans are encouraged to send in questions for the artist via social media in the run-up to filming, and then the questions are posed to the artist on camera. That way, you’re ensuring that the questions asked are what people really want to know about and it makes your audience feel involved. Interviews are also a great way for artists to put across their personalities in a relaxed and enjoyable environment and plug (in a non-salesy way) what they’ve got coming up.”

Content Checklist

What kind of content do you want to create? The possibilities are endless. Content types span:

  • Documentary: self-shooting, artist POV mobile footage, interviews / pieces to camera
  • Live: gigs / rehearsal footage
  • Promo: lyric videos and full blown promos

Here’s a checklist of content that artists and labels should and could be creating and curating on a regular basis: 

  • Official music videos / release videos
  • Audio uploads of music with a static visual (aka ‘art videos’)
  • Live performances
  • Lyric videos
  • Behind the scenes (which could be anything from a ‘day in the life of’ to a tour video diary or the making of your latest music video)
  • Covers
  • Breaking news announcements (e.g. a new album/single/tour, or a big milestone)
  • Tutorials
  • Interviews including fan led
  • Video press kits promoting your latest album/single/tour
  • Playlists
  • Fan-generated videos
  • Competitions
  • Google+ Hangouts on Air
  • Live-streaming (archive-able streaming may be necessary across different timezones)
  • Episodic events

Cost and complexity range from free and easy to expensive and professional. As Jon Baltz says, “Not every video has to be an official music video with a big budget; syncing your music to what you film with your smartphone out of a train window can be just as effective.”

It’s also worth bearing in mind that building engagement doesn’t always mean having to create new content; curating playlists is a great way to mark yourself out as a tastemaker, and will keep your homepage looking fresh and interesting with regular content. Updating your subscriber feed is also key, as Jeremy Rosen advises:

“It’s possible for your subscribers to see when your channel likes, favourites, adds to playlists, or comments. Scheduling this activity to, say, promote a video from a band you’re touring with or a crazy viral video can help keep you at the top of your audience’s mind.”

YouTube Generation

“YouTube Generation” by jonsson       Creative Commons

PART TWO

  • Content Scheduling
  • Content and Channel Optimisation
  • Collaborations
  • Measures of Success

Content Scheduling

The days of aiming to create a one-hit ‘viral’ on YouTube as a marketing strategy are long gone. These days it’s more helpful to think of YouTube as your own TV channel.  Think of content as programming – and not programming for an album cycle, but a 12-month content cycle.

It’s essential to create a programming schedule and produce regular content to drive subscribers, repeat views and watch time, and to give subscribers a reason to return to your channel. As Zac Vibert, Hospital Records’ Head of Digital, puts it:

“If you look at the traditional TV model, scheduling is a big part of it – and YouTube is no different. Have content that viewers can come to expect and look forward to. It is important to have regular content uploads, but also make sure you prioritise quality over quantity!”

Jeremy Rosen advises: “At a minimum, there should be one piece of video content posted to your channel each month. Try to keep it a consistent day of the month, like every third Thursday, and publicise that fact. For a label these would typically be music videos or lyric videos. An individual artist would probably have a short monthly update or Hangout on Air scheduled. You could also consider publishing music on a regular basis or come up with an episodic concept you’ll be able to pull off consistently (like “My Top 5 Listens This Month).”

Laura Bruneau makes an important point about programming unreleased content: “YouTube is a great way to preview unreleased material to your audience – plus your content is monetised and preview content makes it much easier to automatically remove unauthorised 3rd party use of your content. However, it is important to mix up this regular standard content with things like interviews, behind the scenes content and music videos so that your audience does not get bored. I would suggest at least 1 piece of non-release video content per month, or more if you have the time/budget.”

Different types of artist need to cater to their respective audiences when it comes to content programming, according to Jon Baltz: “More established artists have the luxury of being able to widely space out their content because every time they release something people will jump on it. New artists are in the exact opposite situation; they need to be putting out new content constantly, at least once a week.  The goal of releasing videos for a new artist should be growing an audience organically. Producing a viral hit is great, but a viral hit is most valuable when it generates views on older content – that makes fans.”

At Midem, INDMusic also recommended scheduling 6-8 pieces of content to support an ‘activity’ – be it announcing a tour, releasing a single, planning a hangout etc.

Content and channel optimisation

It’s not just about what kind of content you create or how often you upload it; if you don’t optimise your content properly, it won’t get the views or subscribers that you’re aiming for. Remember that YouTube is one giant search engine and, as Zac Vibert advises, “Never underestimate the importance of good data!”

Keywords are the most important factor in making your content easily searchable, so always ensure that your video titles, descriptions, links, annotations, tags and thumbnails are optimised. In addition, use tools like playlisting and in-video programming in order to link your viewers to related content and keep them viewing videos within your channel.

Laura Bruneau points out that monetisation is another key factor: “Other people will be exploiting your catalogue so it’s essential that you are too! Make sure that you have claims set up on your audio so that you are monetising 3rd party content. You might not realise how valuable this is, but the bulk of our YouTube income at Anjuna comes from other people using our songs, rather than our own uploads.”

Collaborations 

Collaborate with your fans: YouTube is one of the most powerful social networks in the world, so focus on building up and engaging your community on YouTube. Tailor your content around the likes/dislikes/needs of your viewers, engage with them and evolve your content strategy accordingly. Consider creating video content to answer the questions/comments of your fans instead of another blog post, tweet or Facebook post.

Zac Vibert advises: “Make YouTube the central hub for your music/artists, and create a community feel to your channel. If you want to build a good following, try to prioritise your channel and make sure you upload your music to YouTube first.”

Collaborate with your peers: artists and labels should also look into creating collaborations with fellow musicians and music networks in order to reach new audiences and cross-promote content across a wider channel network.  As Jeremy Rosen suggests, “Consider approaching YouTube creators to help you. There may be a vlogger or episodic series on YouTube which fits your fans, your style, or are simply fans themselves. Some of the best videos on YouTube have been collaborations between channels and the value in cross-promotion is a no-brainer. Consider it product placement, with you as the product.”

Measures of success

How will you know if your content strategy is delivering the right results? If you don’t measure it, it’s not marketing. YouTube Analytics gives you a detailed insight into what content is and isn’t helping you achieve your YouTube objectives. Check Analytics regularly and keep an eye on not just numbers of views, but also subscribers, watch time, engagement and so on. You can then adjust your content strategy accordingly.

And as a final note, the YouTube Music Playbook PDF is one of the best guides to the platform that there is, so use it to your advantage.

Time to get creative…your fans are waiting!

Radar is an award-winning network of over 10,000 music video directors worldwide. Radar enables labels, artists and managers to commission great music videos for affordable budgets, between $800 and $8,000.

Radar helps music video directors progress their professional careers. It is a free service for labels, artists and managers. We charge a small subscription fee to directors to access and pitch on briefs.
Radar Music Video

 

Related Reading

YouTube Statistics (YouTube.com)
YouTube Multi-Channel Networks 101 (YouTube.com)
YouTube Creators Hub
PDF-YouTube Playbook Guide:Music (11MB download)
YouTube, BPI and INDMusic talk Online Music Video Strategies (#Midem) (Musically.com)

Timeline For Promoting A UK Single Release, A Radar Rough Guide

Timeline for Promoting a UK Single Release

By Caroline Bottomley, Radar Music Videos.

A lot of promo people we talk to say artists and managers often don’t know what professionals do to promote single releases.

So we asked for help from some real professionals (see credits below).
Then we made up an indie band with an established following and a few previous releases. We made up £5,000 to spend.
Then we wrote this rough guide – enjoy and feel free to add your own tips. 

14 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

* Commission single artwork, even if it’s for download only. Designer £300
* Commission artist photos. Photographer £500

TIP: “Commission nice/weird/cool COLOUR band photos, the brighter the better” David Laurie SiC Records
Start social media engagement. Digital Promotions £500 – £1,000

NOTE: Social media work continues from here up to and after release date.

12 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

* Engage PR £500 – £1,500
* Release advance copies/links to share to monthly press, for review, eg Q, Mojo, Clash, Uncut.

Start with sending out a simple press release announcing the single and put the single into context, eg from an album or a stand-alone track? Will there be associated shows? PR TIP: There are very few print outlets for singles, a couple of dozen really. It’s ALL about online for singles. David Laurie, SiC Records.

NOTE: Press work continues from this point up to and after release date

TIP: “The press release needs to be straightforward and attention-grabbing “artist releases great new song/album” just isn’t enough. What’s your story? What’s special about you/the song/album and why?” Gillian, Million PR and Naked Press.

* Engage Agent 10% of gross
* Engage Radio & Video Plugger £500-£1,500

NOTE: “I would separate Radio & TV costs. Radio Promotions £1000-2000 and TV Plugger £500-1000 per release. They might be able to get it for less, but this is much more realistic of the going rates.” Prudence, Rocket PR

* Commission the official music video, the aim is to create a stand-out, remarkable video. Producer/director (Radar) £2,000

TIP: “The video must be one that compels you to hit SHARE at the end, that is the idea. Not the new Bammers video but the video where the guy turns into a monkey and eats the aeroplane” David Laurie, SiC Records
TIP: “Commission the video now so it can be ready to service at least 6 weeks before release” Prudence, Rocket PR
TIP: “All video people take longer than they say to deliver, so I give at least 2 weeks ahead of my deadline as the actual deadline” David Laurie, SiC Records.

* Create a lyric or packshot video, the point is have this video on the band’s YouTube channel when radio play begins ahead of release date, capturing early views and interest. Producer/director (Radar) or Digital Promotions £0 – £200

8 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

* Track/remix completed.
* Book banner/Facebook/Google advertising. Digital Promotions £500
* Advance copies/links to share released to weekly and daily press, for review. PR
* Release show/s booked. Agent
* Radio promotion begins. Single and album promos are presented to radio producers and presenters with a press release and list of forthcoming live dates. Plugger

TIP: “Almost none of them (radio producers and presenters) listen to albums or anything after the first track on a single promo unless there is some headspinning remix” David Laurie, SiC Records
* Build up support through plays on individual radio shows, working towards playlist consideration. Plugger
* Social media begins to focus on the release campaign. Digital Promotions
* Digital store promotions set up. Digital Promotions

4 – 6 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

* Service video to TV for playlist rotation consideration. Plugger
* Radio playlist consideration. Plugger
* Digital store promotions set up once you have provable ammo from press. Digital Promotions
* Soundcloud stream premiere on a top site followed a day or two later with a blast out to other sites for more embedding, start adding up those NUMBERS to convince radio you are POPULAR. PR

2 WEEKS OUT FROM RELEASE

Securing Music Press

* Secure a video exclusive with a popular music site and general coverage in music media. PR
TIP: “Securing exclusives is PAINFUL and you have to (more or less) only ask one at a time – Pitchfork; Fader; Guardian; Stereogum in that order.

Each one takes at least 24 hrs to get back even if you have a shit hot PR, so running through those top four will take a week and likely they will all pass” David Laurie, SiC Records

* Fan special offers; exclusive tracks, early order discounting etc. Digital Promotions

RELEASE WEEK

* Digital store promotion. Digital Promotions
* Music media coverage. PR
* Paid advertising live. Digital Promotions
* TV rotation. Plugger
* Radio sessions and interviews. Plugger
* Release show. Agent

POST LAUNCH

Post-Launch Promo

* Follow up press campaign to generate further press coverage. PR
* Album and tour news to be associated throughout if appropriate.

NOTE: “It might be an idea to mention that there will be VAT on top of all costs as this seems to come as a surprise to many unsigned acts as they are most likely not VAT registered themselves.” Prudence, Rocket PR

Companies providing these promotion services can be found in Radar’s resources.

This rough guide has been complied with the help of David Laurie at  Something in Construction Records (SiC); Gillian at Million PR & Naked Press**; David Riley at Good Lizard Media**; Prudence at Rocket PR and Caroline Bottomley of Radar Music Videos.

** Willing to advise new artists and labels about promotion strategies.

PS: An important note about paying for services. It’s possible to do just about all these things for free. You do it yourself, get friends to do it, pull in favours. The reason these services are worth paying for is good professionals will do a much quicker and more effective job.

More to the point, people will actually listen to stuff from reputable PRs; press and pluggers are personally connected to press and playlisters; promotions people know which advertising is cost-effective; experienced directors make attractive music videos that get featured on blogs. All that should result in more sales of your single and more tickets sold to your gigs.

Special Thanks to Caroline at Radar Music Video.

Music Video Strategies for Promotion and Monetisation

Caroline from Radar recently chaired a panel at legendary music industry conference, Midem. Top industry professionals discussed strategies for promoting and making money from your videos and here are some of the top tips they shared:

Music Video Strategies for Promotion

“YouTube logo” by Andrew Perry

The importance of YouTube
Having your video on YouTube is essential for musicians:

  • availability (YouTube is the primary search tool for music).
  • shareability (it’s easy to share and embed from YouTube).
  • monetisable streams (YouTube LOVE music videos and encourage partnerships with labels and artists).
  • statistics (radio decisions re playlisting are commonly based on YouTube stats).

How to become a YouTube partner

  • YouTube are making it increasingly easy to become a partner, which means you can earn money from your video views. YouTube Partner Programme
  • Partnership also improves search rankings for videos in your channel.
  • There’s a myth you need to have over 100,000 views to become eligible – not true. YouTube want more quality music content in the partnership scheme, so get registered.

A YouTube Don’t

  • Don’t split views. Upload the video to the artist channel and favourite in the label channel. Favouriting means the video will show up on the label channel, but the views all aggregate on the artist’ copy.

Pros and Cons of Monetised Ads

  • You earn money, versus monetised videos can be less viral – artists and sometimes fans hate ads. Sharing is often the most important metric for a video, above and beyond monetisation.
  • Two kinds of ad: 30 sec pre-roll, very intrusive but high earning and 5 sec skippable banners.
  • Infectious Music don’t run ads for the first two weeks of a new artist’s campaign – they consider ads can be THAT off-putting to fans of new acts.
  • Monetised videos become unavailable to German and Chinese fans, due to lack of licensing agreements in those territories.

The Pros of VEVO

  • The biggest global network dedicated to music visuals.
  • Improved recommendation to viewers – who stay longer and watch more.
  • Higher earnings for partners.
  • They will do special promotion projects with the right partners.
  • They like independent artists, there are many ways for independent artists to get onto VEVO, eg via The Orchard.

The Cons of VEVO

  • You have to upload a new master file, so you’re splitting views across Youtube and VEVO.
  • The ads are the more intrusive type ads.
  • You can’t opt out of ad type, eg you can’t opt out of alcohol ads.
  • VEVO works better for some kinds of artists than others.

Packshot and Lyric Videos

  • It’s useful to have all your tracks on Youtube – if you don’t then someone else will.
  • Packshot videos are quickest and cheapest way to do this. If quality content is important, lyric videos are a good solution.
  • Always service a video when you’re going to radio.

UGC User Generated Content

  • Various responses exist for YouTube partners; Don’t allow, which serves up a stern looking message. Allow but monetise, which takes away some creative control.

Video for Promotion and Discovery

  • Channels such as Balcony TV can deliver an audience, but don’t yet deliver monetisation. Very useful for new artists, where growing a fan base is more relevant than monetising views.

Buying Ads for Promotion and Discovery

  • Link your Google adwords account to your YouTube channel and buy re-targeting ads. This allows you to serve relevant ads to people who have already visited your channel. It can be a highly effective way to build views and channel subscribers.
  • Subscribers are extremely valuable – every time you serve a new video you can send a bespoke message to subscribers’ inboxes. 

The Top Industry Professionals are:
Eric McKay, Business Development VEVO
Connie Meade, Label Manager, Infectious Music
Stephen O’Regan, Founder, Balcony TV
Patrick Ross, Label Services, Kobalt.
Caroline Bottomley is Managing Director of Radar.

The Full Midem Panel Video

Radar is an award-winning, global network connecting independent artists and labels to professional music video directors. Post your brief here: Radar Music Videos.

Many thanks to Caroline Bottomley

WordPress Viral Product Launch: Digital Music Distribution Handbook 2013

Buzzsonic Digital Music Distribution Handbook 

Its been a long time coming.

A couple of years ago now, I finished a series of three blog posts over at Buzzsonic.com which focussed on rounding up all the digital music distributors at the time and giving a bit of a one stop resource for bands and musicians to refer to. Later on I hastily cobbled together the three lengthy posts into one document and posted it over at GDocs for prosperity with the promise of a much needed polish and update.

Finally its well underway and being completely rewritten with many much needed updates and additions and also a great deal of re-organisation and polish!

This time there will be coverage of over fifty digital music distributors, including rundowns on direct-to-fan tools and services and things like chart registration, barcodes and stuff on performing rights societies (PROs), getting paid, vinyl bundling, ISRC codes (and why you need them/what they are!) and the importance of metadata (and SEO).

Sign up to be notified at Buzzsonic. It’ll be in PDF format only initially with maybe a Kindle version a little later. The PDF will be free.

To gather email addresses and do a bit of ‘viral’ pre-release promo I’ve been trying both the Launch Effect WordPress theme (hooked up to Mailchimp) and the Seed Prod Coming Soon Pro plugin (running with Wysija for sign ups).

Seedprod for simple get up and go, took minutes with Wysija for email signups and was well worth the $29 for the premium version. And I’m actually still using the free version of Launch Effect as the post-sign up landing page. Seedprod is a plugin where as Launch Effect is a theme. Wysija it is for now as there’s a mere trickle of signups so something more robust (if needed) can always been upgraded too. Wysija Premium is $99 a year for 2000+ subscribers which compares well with Mailchimps $120.

Related Reading

Launch Effect App (LaunchEffectApp.com)
Seedprod  (Seedprod.com)
How to Create a Viral Launch Page with WordPress (WP.TutsPlus)
Viral Product Launch with Launch Effect (1stWebDesigner.com)
How To Build Your First Online Asset In 48 Hours (SeanOgle.com)
Create A Coming Soon Page With SeedProd WordPress Plugin (WPKube.com)

How To Issue A DMCA Takedown Notice To Google

Its always exciting when an artist has a new release go public, but these days (and I’m old enough to have had vinyl/CD only releases in the 90s) its often tempered by the fact that the same day your release gets out it also appears on P2P networks and the endless pile of borderline legal filehosts. So, to try and keep an eye on things the first thing I do is sign up for Google alerts for new mentions of both my artist name, 99th Floor Elevators and the title of any new release, in this case ’99th Floor Elevators Hooked EP’.

99th Floor Elevators Hooked EP

Of course the very next day of my latest release I did my usual Google search query and although the Beatport (they had the exclusive option on the release for the first few weeks) entry was top of the SERPs, and my own 99th Floor Elevators MP3 page was second, queuing up in the majority of the results underneath was a swarm of outlets offering that very same release, free, most even showing the official MP3 artwork, one even having the cheek to use Beatports widget so ‘freetards’ could stream the tracks first!

First things first. I contacted the offending websites in the top 20 results (and this really is like playing whack-a-mole*) and issued DMCA’s (here’s a sample DMCA takedown notice), then I (for starters, I’ll be repeating the process today) filled in Google’s online DMCA takedown submission form with a sample of offenders from the top 10. Be aware that there is a separate process for YouTube.

Anyway, to cut a long story short the results from the first page that I had submitted to Google were gone less than 24 hours later. Bravo.

99th Floor Elevators issue DMCA takedowns to Google

Of course, the very same day those links that were removed were now being replaced by a whole host of new parasites (to which hopefully the same process will remove them as quickly!).

If you want to go through the same process yourself , read this piece from IP Watchdog, which will help you write a template DMCA notice to issue to individual websites (separate to filling in Google’s online submission form).

Sample DMCA Takedown Letter instructions.

You’ll generally find that the file hosts are much less responsive than Google, if they respond at all, but issue them anyway. Then, get them removed from the Google SERPs. Start here:

Removing Content From Google (Google Help)

And do remember also that this process is very much the same whether you’re finding your images used, videos or anything being shared or exploited, without your permission. There’s a separate process for infringement on YouTube.

This post originally appeared on Buzzsonic.com.

Related Reading

Safe Harbor Not Loophole: Five Things We Could Do Right Now to Make the DMCA Notice and Takedown Work Better (The Trichordist)
Google URL Takedown Requests Up 100% In a Month, Up 1137% On 2011 (Torrent Freak)
The DMCA is not an Alibi: The Googlization of Art and Artists (Music Tech Policy)
Pirate Bay block effectiveness short-lived, data suggests (BBC News)
Stock DMCA Letters (Plagiarism Today)
Game of Whack a Mole Continues as Big UK ISPs Block More Pirate Bay IPs (ISPReview)
DMCA Takedown 101 (Brainz.org)

Become A Social Media News Curation King With RSS

RSS has been much maligned of late but still remains one of the easiest and most convenient ways of keeping in touch with breaking news and subscribing to new content on your favourite websites and blogs.

My Overworked Google RSS Reader

Social Media Today, summed up RSS very well here: “using RSS in combination with Google Reader can be a very powerful option if you do content curation or disseminate information to a determined audience. I use RSS very actively as my primary channel for receiving information instead of having to remember every site I have to visit every day to get news.”

RSS Still A Killer App

There has been talk that Twitter and Facebook are replacing RSS as a key broadcaster of news, but thats something of an over statement, RSS is still a key app for me as I curate/read an extensive array of news feeds daily and Twitter is still way too ‘noisy’.

Subscribing to a specific RSS feed in Google Reader is still the best way, at least for me, to stay on top of any key developments in my field of  choosing and certainly in the SEO, Search and Social Media field there isn’t a key name out there that isn’t blogging and syndicating that blog with an RSS feed. Fact.

RSS enables me to skim hundreds of article headlines in minutes enabling me to click only on those that are of key interest to me. This would highlight the importance of writing those killer article titles too!

My RSS Toolbox of Choice

I use the Chrome browser pretty much exclusively these days and there’s a couple of browser extensions I use that enhance my usage of RSS and my content curation in general.

RSS Subscription Extension adds one-click subscription to your toolbar and shows the familiar orange RSS subscription icon when a RSS feed is detected on the website you’re browsing making it an easy click and go to subscribe to a feed.

Postponer Manager is a pair of extensions that add extra function to Pocket (aka Read It Later). The Postponer Adder adds an icon next to every article in your Google Reader to add it to your reading list.

So, if you’re short on attention span or time you can simply click on the Adder icon next to the article you’re interested in, in your reader and the post will be saved automagically on your Pocket page for you to return to and read at leisure. Lifesaver! Sign up free here.

Postponer Adder Chrome Extension
Postponer Adder Chrome Extension

Feedly is basically a news curation plugin of sorts and syncs with your Google Reader to become your ‘Social News Reader’. Basically it does what services like Paper.li and Twylah do to your Twitter feed, turns them into personalised newspapers from content you’ve collected yourself (in this case from your collection of RSS feeds).

My Social Media RSS Feeds via Feedly
My Social Media RSS Feeds seen thru Feedly

You can use Reeder iOS app to sync your Google Reader account to your iPhone or iPad too.  For more tips there’s a great post from last month at Lifehacker that digs around for resources to customise your Google Reader experience here: ‘Supercharge Google Reader with Styles and Extensions’.

I’ve kind of moved away from desktop RSS readers simply because my reader is so busy it was using 70% of system resources at times and slowing everything else down! Not everyone is an ‘info freako’ like me and if you do want to read offline too then Feed Demon is about as good as it gets and syncs with Google reader too. Brill.

Your OPML Starter Kit!

Acronyms you’ve never heard of? We got em! OPML is, in laymans terms is a portable data format with  the most common usage being to exchange lists of web feeds between web feed aggregators. So.

Here’s a quick and easy lesson in how you can use it to move your collection of feeds around (or indeed back them up). I try and export my list of feeds from my Google Reader account monthly at least, then if for some (unlikely) reason my reader settings get corrupted I can simply re-import my original list.

To export your OPML list of feeds (which is actually a very small text file so its quite practical to share via email) in Google Reader go to Reader Settings, then the Import/Export tab then right click and download under OPML download (natch!).

Downloading your RSS feeds as an OPML file in G Reader.

If you have a specific category and want to grab just that collection of feeds, you’d click on the subscriptions title then ‘Folder Settings’, scrolling down to ‘Create a Bundle’ then save. You can see my collections below with several sharing options.

You can grab the OPML and download, email to your friends, get the HTML to post your collection as a widget in your blog or simply add the bundle as a link on your website.

RSS Bundles in Google Reader

Getting Started With Stuff to Read!

Lets assume you already have a Google reader account (and if you use GMail then you do). Here’s three OPML (XML) files for you to download from my own RSS reader account.

Search and SEO (right click and save as..) 36 different feeds,
Social Media  30 different feeds
WordPress  21 different feeds

After you’ve saved one or all of the files, fire-up your reader of choice and go to reader settings, then Import/Export and it’ll ask you to import your subscriptions, select an OPML file>Choose File>Upload and done. You’ll now see your categorised folder in your reader and you have more to read now than you can possibly manage!

Do comment below if you use any particular reader, RSS tool or browser extension that hasn’t got a mention here (and there is many!).

 

Related Reading

Supercharge Google Reader with Styles and Extensions (Lifehacker)
RSS is dead… long live RSS! How to replace your Google Reader shared feed (SocialMediaToday)
Replacing your RSS reader with Twitter + Hootsuite (ItsWorthNoting.com)
The War On RSS (Vambenepe.com)
Will Twitter Replace RSS? (Twitip.com)

The Complete Pinterest Resources Guide For Power Users

BzzzSocial on Pinterest
Buzzsonic on Pinterest

OK, so you’ve fallen for all the Pinterest hype and you’ve signed up and got started, now what? I hunted down some of the better resources, tools and how-to’s from the Interwebs and tried to sort through the avalanche to target the best and most useful that’ll help you get the most out of your Pinning. Just in case you’ve been slacking, here’s the official FAQs page if you’re still playing catch up!

“Pinterest is completely visually driven. Unlike other social networks that are focused on what you’re doing right now, Pinterest concentrates more on what you want to be, where you want to go, what you want to build in the future”. Thought  Matrix

First Things First. Tune Up Those Images

One of the main things to remember, and one of the ‘rules’ you should  stick by is the (my label!) ‘attribution etiquette rule’, that is, giving credit to where you  sourced that pinned image from. That means it shouldn’t be as lazy as doing a Google image search and pinning what you find from the search giant.

Mashable recently published ‘How to Make Images Stand Out on Pinterest’ which has a great infographic on how best to present your pinned images and optimise them for everyones benefit.

Pinterest Image Optimisation
Pinterest Image Optimisation

Pinterest Browser Extensions & Plugins

A  browser plugin (for Chrome) I swear by, which streamlines my image searching ten fold is the Tin Eye reverse image search tool, which works by adding an extra search option when you right click on any image in your browser. Click search and off it goes to find alternate sources and sizes of the image you’re looking at.

Pin Search is another simple but extremely useful browser plugin which adds an extra button onto the Pinterest page you’re browsing. ‘Search’ appears underneath the default three options of Repin, Edit and Comment when you hover over an image in Pinterest, zipping off to search Google images to dig out more options on the image you’re interested in.

I always try and remember to click through directly to the source of the pinned image before re-pinning just to make sure it doesn’t take me off somewhere it shouldn’t  (spammy framed redirect-affiliate links was a recent experience).

The Pinterest Pin It button (from Shareaholic) is another essential I use daily and if there is something sleeker and more feature packed, I have yet to stumble across it. It does what it says on the tin, “the easiest way to send images from any website to your pinboards”. Either click the button or right click on the image. Simple’s

One more on the Pinterest browser plugins that I use.  Share As Image Pro (until recently known as PinAQuote) lets you highlight text anywhere on the web and easily convert it into an image and post as a nicely coloured Pin. So, good for all those classic inspirational quotes and snippets of wisdom we all love so much. The ($2.99) Pro version lets you customise the text and background colours you pin. Worth it.

Share As Image Pro Browser Plugin
Share As Image Pro Browser Plugin

There’s an increasing amount of Chrome browser extensions for Pinterest and you’ll find all the official Pinterest tools on the Goodies page. These include a simple browser bookmarklet, follow and Pin It buttons for websites and the official iOS Pinterest App.

Calculate Your Pinfluence !

This is probably as irrelevant as Klout scores (CNN Money had a piece called ‘ Why Klout scores are possibly evil’ last year) but Pinreach is actually a quite useful mixture of ‘influence’ and analytics. The fledgling service analyses your popular boards by using repin numbers and shuffles the data from your boards via repins, likes, followers, pins and comments. You can also get data on your most popular repins.

Its great for gaining some quick insight and stats as to what is working best on your profile and for calculating which board needs more work.. You get a PR (Pinreach) score out of 100 (much like Klout) though I found Pinreach to be of much more  relevance  than Klout.

Pinreach Pinterest Analytics
Pinreach Pinterest Analytics

If you want to get more indepth on the analytics and what traffic Pinterest is sending to your website, Mashable have a very useful guide on How to Track Traffic From Pinterest in Google Analytics.

Pinerly I haven’t yet got access too, but Mashable have (natch!) but ploughs a similar furrow to Pinreach but with more onus on running Pinterest marketing campaigns.  Pinpuff is another of what they’re calling Pinfluence tools, along the lines of Klout, with the promise of ‘pinperks’ but other than that looks very similar to Pinreach.

 Pinterest, Meet WordPress

Pinterest WordPress RSS Widget

When I last looked there was already 86 different Pinterest plug-ins for WordPress bloggers to add to their websites. Naturally, one will be enough for your site, which one depends on your own preferences but the majority of them simply give you the ability to display activity from your Pinterest account either in your sidebar with a drag n drop widget or via short codes, which let you add activity to pages and posts.

I looked and tried a few here on BzzzSocial and settled on the ‘Pinterest RSS Widget’ which enables you to display thumbnails of your Pinterest general feed (or a specific pinboard) in your sidebar and also the ability to add feeds to any posts and pages using short-codes.

Pipped into second place was ‘Pinterest Pinboard Widget‘ which displays some very nicely laid out thumbnails in your sidebar of your activity but unfortunately (as yet) no ability to display from specific pinboards which was the clincher for me. If you just want to display action from all your boards in one neat looking display this is the way to go.

‘Pretty Pinterest Pins’ was my weapon of choice initially but display size options were limited with no thumbnail square option which meant the pins took up much more space in the sidebar. Other than that it allows you to choose from specific pinboards, item count etc.

The neatest (at least for me here) social sharing WordPress plugin at the moment is Digg Digg, which gives you several options to share content, including ‘Pinning’. You can display buttons above or below content or choose the floating social sharing bar (which you can view next to this post). Similar to the one used by Mashable no less. Easy to set up, modify and looks great.

Pinterest, Where’s The RSS?

The Sociable have a great guide on how to pull in RSS feeds from specific Pinterest Pinboards so I wont ramble on repeating what they’ve done so well.

” Following a specific board created by a user via RSS is less obvious. If you visit a user’s Pinterest Board you’ll see that there are no links to subscribe to that board’s RSS feed. But you can still generate a feed for it. To do this, first open the board (e.g. Felicia Day’s Geekin Board), then, Remove the last “/” from the URL and add .rss – your end URL will look like http://pinterest.com/feliciaday/geekin.rss ” read the full post at The Sociable…

12 More of the Most Useful Pinterest Articles from this Year

13 ‘Pinteresting’ Facts About Pinterest Users:Infographic (Mashable) Who are these feverish pinners? According to full service agency Modea, the majority are female mothers — 28 percent have a household income of $100k+.

Shopify Survey: Pinterest Users Spend 2X More (PinnableBusiness.com) Ecommerce store platform Shopify just released numbers on the profitability of Pinterest for their shop owners. They looked at over 25,000 Shopify online stores to see how Pinterest drives sales. The results are dramatic.

The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Pinterest for Marketing (HubSpot) As with any hot new social network that comes onto the scene, marketers are chiming in with, “Can I use it for marketing?” “…and, how?” The short answer? Absolutely. The longer answer? Read on to find out how.

20 Awesome Tools Which Will Have you ‘Pinteresting’ Like a Pro (The Next Web) With such an active community, it’s no surprise that there are a ton of other interesting tools, apps, and sites which aim to enhance the Pinterest experience beyond the Follow Button and Pin It button which can easily be installed on any website.

Proof That Pinterest Drives Sales, And Its Fans Spend Big (Fast Company) Pinterest users not only buy the products they pin, but spend more on average than their Facebook counterparts, according to new data from Shopify.

16 Ways Educators Can Use Pinterest (Infographic) (Mashable) OnlineUniversities.com have put together an infographic, which details how teachers can use Pinterest to organize lesson plans, distribute curricula, collaborate with other faculty, and even encourage student participation.

56 Ways to Market Your Business on Pinterest (CopyBlogger) Think those inspiring vision boards don’t result in referral traffic to websites and blogs? Think again. In January 2012, Pinterest drove greater traffic to websites than LinkedIn, Google Plus, Reddit, and Youtube — combined.

Infographic of the week: Pinterest Marketing Strategies (Populate Digital) The infographic gives you 64 marketing tips and tactics that you can apply to your Pinterest account now, to help give you a head start.

Pinterest Marketing Tips & Tricks to Drive Targeted Traffic(Search Engine Watch) Having little experience beyond personal playing around on it, my view was that Pinterest was shaping up to be a fun toy, but had little value for marketers. Of course, I love to be proven wrong when someone can bring the numbers to back up their experience with a new “toy.” Steve Gerencser from Steam Driven Media did just that.

How local businesses can do research and gain an edge with Pinterest (SmartBlogs.com) Sure, it’s easy for big brands such as Whole Foods to be successful but what about small and local businesses? The good news for local businesses is that Pinteret’s search feature makes it incredibly worthwhile for local businesses to be on Pinterest.

Why Online Marketers Better Get An Interest In Pinterest, Fast (Forbes) A few months ago I wrote of the need for brand managers to get “pinterested” due to the fact that women, AKA the one responsible for the majority of household purchase decisions has “developed an affinity for the latest and greatest social media platform.” It would also appear that those in the e-commerce world better also get “pinterested” if they have not already.

The Ultimate Pinterest Guide for Your Online Store (Shopify) The whirlwind of excitement that surrounds Pinterest provides online store owners a great opportunity to leverage it’s popularity (and overall awesomeness) to bring attention to their online store. Whether you’re already setup on Pinterest or you’re a complete newbie, this is a guide that will teach you the basics, and also help the more experienced pinners get the most from this popular social media platform.

Happy Pinning!

And don’t forget to connect with me on Pinterest OK and dig into one of my most popular boards too: Social Media, SEO & Digital Marketing , packed with close to 600 carefully curated resources and infographics on Social Media and SEO.

Follow BzzzSocial on Pinterest

Some Quick Branding Tips and Tools

At Brighton SEO search marketing conference last month I was reminded that the most straightforward of tasks are often the most useful.

Samantha Noble from Koozai gave a presentation called ‘(Re-) Launching a Brand Online Effectively‘ where she bought up several things you should be doing to protect your brand (or launch a new one).

“There are a number of things to consider during the research stage if you are planning on launching or re-launching a product or service online. Even if you are not changing your brand name, there are a number of things that you should review to ensure that potential customers find you easily, but most importantly, that your brand name is protected.”

Register Domains and Social Profiles

Some of the basic pointers she outlined were:

  • Secure the trademark
  • Decide on a date to go live
  • Register and redirect domains
  • Claim all social profiles
Koozai Sam on Branding
Koozai Sam on Branding

One of the first steps I always take myself is to see if the domain name is available for the name I’m planning on using, initially the .com and if that one is available then I’ll grab the .net and .org too. And its not all about the .com anymore either with a whole bunch of newer TLD’s in usage these days (there’s another older post of mine at Buzzsonic that talks about domain name extensions for music businesses), including .dj .tv .ly .la .cd .fm and .it just to name a few.

There’s a complete list of domain name extensions available via governing body IANA here.

MakeUseOf.com have a handy roundup of domain name search tools and ideas in their post, ‘10 Unusual Domain Name Search Tools to Find Hot Domains‘. Be aware though and Samantha did bring this up at her Brighton SEO branding presentation, that should your chosen name be available, don’t leave it until later to register.

I have found, to my dismay that I’ve lost a few good brand name ideas by not securing the domain name straight away. Mysteriously (or not) you could find, the next time you go back to register the name, its been snapped up.

For the more exotic domain name extensions I use 101Domain to see what’s available outside the plain Vanilla .com and .net’s of this world. I recently started snapping up a few names with the Indian extension .in, primarily because there was a $2.99 firesale at my registrar of choice Name.com.

Branding Inspiration & Ideas

Nameboy will give you some ideas by generating a bunch of names from keywords showing you a list of what’s available and  bases its results on a primary word and a secondary word. Domai.nr is another clever idea which generates names as you type in the search box and Namevine  searches for a domain name and matching social media profiles.

Social Name Check

Namechk Social Profile Search iOS App
Namechk.com Social Profile Search iOS App

Once you’ve discovered your domain name is available you’ll want to secure all the major social media profiles (and any you speculate might take-off later) for that name. Not sure you’ll want to go so OTT with 500+ social profiles (cripes!) but Knowem.com will search 575  social networks and over 150 domain names for your brand, which for a rising pay scale, starting at $75 (depending on numbers) will secure the brand for you. Great for those with more money than time.

Namechk ‘only’ checks 159 different social networks (I think that’s probably enough!) and quickly tells you which ones are available, as well as any available matching domain name’s. The site will export the results as a text file for reference too and they have an iPhone app for idea brainstorming on the move. Neat.

Trademark Your Brand 

One final point. Just because you have the domain name and the Twitter and Facebook vanity URL’s doesn’t mean you own the trademark, so make sure you search the trademark registry in your country (here’s the USA and the UK ones for starters).

Check this Dummies post: ‘How to Trademark Your Brand Name‘ too, for a more detailed instructional.

 

Related Resources

Craft an Unforgettable Story for Your Business (ChatterJet)
Reputation Management in a Digital Age (Koozai)
Claim Your Company Profile on Social Sites (ChatterJet)
Online Reputation Management Tutorial (SEO-Hacker)
5 Tips To Manage Your Multinational Social Media (SearchEngineLand)