Month: July 2010

Blog Challenge Week 4 – Social Media

I love that the book Music Success in Nine Weeks addresses that musicians HATE this aspect of being a musician. It takes us away from what we love to do… write, make and play music.

But being married to a computer tech guy for 18 years today (that’s right it’s our anniversary and I’m blogging and he’s working… we love each other but we also love our careers too!), I have been forced into Web 2.0. He was the one who made me tweet. “Just try it… you’ll like it” he said. He is like a internet pusher.

But I did try it and liked it enough to keep going, along with facebook, youtube, reverbnation yadda yadda, yadda.

Really I started with youtube a few years ago, which ended up getting me 3/4 million views on a comedy song called the Childbirth Song, that I performed at a concert. I was always very keen to thank everyone who left comments on that and all the other songs I made vids for and posted.

So then came facebook… again I really like to acknowledge all lovely comments. Then there was twitter, then reverbnation, then MySpace, then, then… there are only so many hours in the day to reply.

But then I read and liked the the way the book describes this all as watering your social media garden. It somehow makes it less daunting Although I am well known for being a terrible gardener, I have managed to grow some tomatoes as well as get new followers on twitter this year!

There is SO much to the social media thing that blogging about it starts my head spinning. It’s one of those things you just have to do little by little and only look at the trees and not the whole forest otherwise you could implode.

So I will keep watering. Most sites will get tended to regularly, some will wither and some will got thrown into the garbage.

If you want to find me on the internet at the places that are blooming (other than this blog!) here’s a list of the places that I regularly update and interact with.

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube

It’s also important to spend some time away from a screen, so I’m off to watch Star Wars for the 56th time with my son! 🙂

Blog Challenge week 3 : Optimize Your Website

Optimize my website? After reading this chapter of Music Success in Nine Weeks I not only optimized… I changed the whole thing!

The part on having a consistent feel all over the net coupled with having a consistent feel with business cards etc, and the fact that I’d just had some lovely photos done for my new CD, I decided that a makeover was needed. I may have had the same hairstyle for more years than I care to mention, but that doesn’t mean I can’t change my image.

The ‘must load in 3.5 seconds’ is something that has been hammered home to me many times by my iPad software developing, attention to detail, husband. So I do have an advantage having in-house help. However, I do my own website and my husband believes in tough love… ie you’re on your own unless…

So after using the great photos in a large format with half my face cut off (looks better than it sounds!) as a theme, I went about putting into practice the notes in chapter 3. I have added my pitch, have no flash intros (which I hate anyway!) and have added a ‘free mp3 for joining the email list’ to my home page.

I also decided to make the home page my ‘Latest News’ page so people don’t have to scroll through a whole load of writing to find out what I am currently working on. And of course there is the usual easy navigation question which I spent a lot of time thinking about before deciding on my menu items and what takes you where. I hope I have been clear…

The thing that makes me giddy about my website is a little feature that I did get the husband to do for me. I wanted the large pics to re-size with the size of the window which he did and I am very grateful!

So then I set about changing all my other sites – myspace, twitter, reverbnation etc to match my website.

I love a change and I LOVE this one. I am so glad that the book gave me the impetus to really look at my site because I now have one that I proud to point people towards!

www.helenaustin.com

Any comments are welcome 🙂

Blog Challenge week 2. Perfect Pitch

I don’t have it but my kids do, which is very irritating when they tell me I’m singing my own song in the wrong key!

But this is a different sort of pitch… the one that tells everybody what you sound like.

But what do I sound like? Everyone would like to think that their sound was so unique you couldn’t possibly compare it to others. But the book Music Success in Nine Weeks MAKES you think about it and really gets you to flesh out where your influences are coming from.

I always hate the part in music submission where they get you to list who you sound like, so I had to grit my teeth and push my ego aside and really think.

Now I LOVE Iron & Wine and his music has really influenced my own on the production side with the ‘close quiet vocal’ thing. But I’m a girl so I don’t really sound like him.

Radio people have said that I have a bit of Simon and Garfunkel, CSN&Y or Elliot Smith about me… but there’s that boy thing again. Which girl do I sound like?

I’m not as pop-y as Regina Spektor, as alternative as Joanna Newsom, or as direct as Kate Nash. The closest I could get was Feist (the close quiet vocal thing!) but I am folkier that her.

It was my husband that came up with the analogy that strung it all together.

As my influences and sound are from both an earlier generation (one that that I was very much alive for!) and today’s sounds, we came up with this.

“A singer songwriter with the DNA of Simon & Garfunkel and CSN&Y clothed in Iron & Wine and a folkier Feist”

I don’t like comparing myself to writers such as these as I don’t feel worthy but people who have heard my music and have looked at the pitch seem to nod their heads and say “Yup, that’s what you sound like”.

So I have trusted in the listeners and now have that quote on my business cards etc.

Blog challenge… and other challenges.

So it seems that I really should read about the challenge before I start it! Story of my life.

The Music Success in Nine Weeks challenge is blogging about the 9 weeks of the book… duh!

This first week is getting mentally prepared.

This one was easy. Nearly 2 years ago when my youngest went to school full time and thought  ‘what am I going be when I grow up?’. I had finished a 20 year comedy career in the UK and knew that straight, unadulterated music is what I really wanted to do.

So I set out a plan (with the blessing of my lovely husband with a real job).

I wanted to make and record music, didn’t want to tour too much (I did that in my previous life) and my main goal was to get my music on TV, Film etc. I decided to treat this like a job because it is. I got up every day and worked hard from the moment the kids left until I had to pick them up… and then worked some more. The word ‘obsessed’ has been bandied around our house more than a few times!

So 2 years later, I have 2 great publishers and I have some music on TV (Ghost Whisperer and 90210 are my biggest so far) a couple of indie movies, a couple of ads and a documentary.

So reading the first chapter of the book was really satisfying. There’s nothing better than having your own actions confirmed by someone who has been through this many, many times with artists!

Week 2 – The Perfect Pitch. See you next week…

Treat your email list with care

As an artist, I know that the email list is one of the most valuable marketing tools you can have. It takes time to accumulate the list, is lots of hard work to add to the list and the list is your direct access to the people who want to follow your progress (and buy your music!).

So when I get an email from a band that I don’t know, whose list I have somehow ended up on, that tells (not asks) me to vote for them, includes a bunch of images and then signs off with lots of love, it makes me wonder how sincere some email lists are.

I have spent years building my list and checking that people want to be on the list. I always give them a friendly way out and most importantly, if I need people to vote for me (which I hate btw) then I ask them in a very understated way and only if they have time. I would rather keep my list (and friends) than get the votes for one of the many competitions out there.

I would much prefer to get a personal style email (we all know they are being BCC’d to the list) with a little humility.

I only email my list if there is really something to tell them about, I keep it brief (I myself have a very short attention span for those long emails) and I always thank them for allowing me into their inbox, which I consider a privilege.

With great lists comes great responsibility.

PS if you want to be added to my email list then please click here