May 22, 2007

My Top Artists...

by Chris Randall

You can pretty much see where my tastes lie by looking at something like this. Now that I've been running the Last FM thing for several months, it has a pretty good handle on my overall tastes. It is no doubt heavily affected by the fact that I do most of my recreational music listening in my car. That is where I listen to new stuff, at any rate. I think that if my car listening was included in the list, Grinderman, Killing Joke, and Agent Orange (my most common driving artists, lately) would probably be in the top 7.

If you're curious, that "Stax/Volt" reference is the Stax/Volt singles collection, Vol. 1, a nine-CD box set with every Stax/Volt single up to 1968. I should really pick up the second volume.



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May.22.2007 @ 4:23 PM
Stax singles are incredible...
beside all the Trojan box sets are the most listened albums in my iPod....

May.22.2007 @ 8:35 PM
First off... I'm having a hard time _not_ listening to Grinderman over and over and over... beautiful stuff.

I set up a "label" page, uploaded many CD's of material, put together large lists of "sounds like" associations, and thought that that would be enough to get some material out there. But - it turns out that appears to be a pay for play service.

Under Promotions, you can "Book a powerplay campaign to target a set amount of radio plays for a track to a targeted group of users."
100 impressions for $20.00
500 impressions for $100.00
1,000 impressions for $200.00
2,000 impressions for $400.00

Now, this may be an economical means of getting your music heard, but it offends me for a few reasons. First - it allows labels to foist crap upon listeners. Second, it demands that labels pay for new tracks to be heard - if only a few people know the tracks are online, they don't get associated with other tracks. It's kind of like getting Google to crawl your web-page - without paying for the service it may never happen.

Now, since I have released on a reasonably large indie label (way back when), some of my work has already been played and likened to other artists, so I guess I have a foot in the door. But the new material is never randomly suggested by the player-engine, so unless I fork over cash, I won't get any hits?

I make music as a hobby/passion, not as a profession. Don't make money on this, don't want to fork over money to promote music that won't make me money. Am I SOL?

How did positron records get established on



May.23.2007 @ 3:35 AM
I think if you play your tracks in mediaplayer for example and they get picked up by the scrobling program, you music will eventually start to appear in peoples radio playlists. The powerplay program is if you want to do more direct placement of your tunes.

I have run some powerplay programs for some of my stuff and it has worked out quite well.



May.23.2007 @ 4:13 AM
Chris Randall
In truth, my lovely and talented missus deals with this end of the business, and I'm not entirely sure of the other things she does viz. Last.FM, but whatever it is, it seems to work, as that is one of the few sites that actually translates sales. _MUCH_ more than Myspace.

For what it's worth, we've done the powerplayola promotion a few times to good effect. If it hadn't worked, she wouldn't have done it more than once, and I know for a fact she has done it multiple times. Creature touches on a second method of self-promotion on Last.FM in the first sentence of his post. If you think about it for a second, you'll figure out what it is.

I also think that this sort of thing works out a little better if you have a meta-presence on the site (same as with Myspace, Virb, what have you.) Since she effectively controls a dozen Myspace pages, a Virb page for each of our artists, and a Last.FM page for each, as well as a meta label page on each, she can actually get everything to jibe with each other quite nicely. A homogeneous presence for the entire roster really helps to create circles of cross promotion.

Now, all that said, it comes down to this: you have to spend money to make money, especially in the music industry. Very few indie artists realize that just having your content out there, and having it be good, isn't enough to ensure success. You literally have to spend every dime and every waking minute promoting yourself. It is also true that being good isn't really necessary. It's just a matter of finding the right market. William Hung has made a good living off of not having any demonstrable talent; he just found a market for himself.



May.23.2007 @ 6:34 AM
William Hung? Wow, I didn't know him and his "carreer"...

Probably people studying western culture, in the year 2500, will have an hard time trying to understand such phenomenons and our times....


May.23.2007 @ 12:05 PM
As an end user have you ever gotten anything out of the Last FM recommendations? I am still someone new to the whole thing but it really doesn't seem to matter what I listen to, it always recommends the same stuff...

It is heavily (entirely?) based on cross-referenced play data. It seems to me like no matter what I listen to, it is always recommending middle of the road "indie rock" for me, such is its popularity with the Last FM user base. My feeling is that Last FM doesn't really have very a diverse group of users, so pretty much no matter what your taste is, it is going to go ahead and recommend the Flaming Lips, Yo La Tengo, etc, because that is what almost everyone else using Last FM listens to in the first place. This might just be my experience though, I would be interested to hear what others think. I did notice however that Linkin Park is #1 on the charts so maybe I am dead wrong :)

In any case I think some limited user moderation re: similar artists/influences/etc would go a long way towards providing meaningful recommendations to people seeking to discover new music. For instance, look at Bob Dylan's top 3 "similar artists": The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Velvet Underground. Fine music, but not very similar beyond being popular artists who acheived their peak in the 60s. I think someone who was geniunely interested in similar material would like to see some of Dylan's early musical influences, his NYC folkie contemporaries from the early 60s, or other singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell or Tom Waits and so on...



May.23.2007 @ 3:05 PM
penzoil washington
Has anyone lacking a full-time lovely and talented wife/partner tried IODA's promo services? Pretty interesting, and reasonable.

May.24.2007 @ 5:47 AM
Neubauten :)
I saw them at ATP festival last month, awesome.

May.24.2007 @ 6:14 AM
I have been able to find some interesting new music based on using the similar artist stations for stuff I like. I hit the skip button really quick for about 9 out of 10 of the songs that come up, and if the tenth one actually turns out to be interesting, it's usually something I've heard before, but I have found some good new stuff that way.
The promotion seems like a really good idea, and I don't have a problem with it at all. They've got to find some way to make a website like that pay. If it doesn't turn a profit, it won't be around for long. It also sounds like a great method of advertising, depending on how specifically you can target it. if it's pretty specific, it would probably be really efficient. If you don't like it, there's always the skip button.

User moderation like rrrobc suggested would be great. He seems pretty much on the money about the listener base in general having pretty boring taste in music, but I think thats just an effect of demographics and the bell curve. The problem I see is that, for example, my top few artists since I signed up around November (Though not necessarily what I listened to before that) are:

Boban Markovic
Tommy Jarrell
Dobrichka Troika
Sheena Ringo (I found out about her from moyashi's recommendation on this blog last month. good stuff)
Amon Tobin
Stoyan Chobanov
Antipop Consortium
Thione Seck
Yuri Yukanov/Ivo Papasov
Venetian Snares
Melt Banana

Despite the fact taht they are all several places down the list, it always calculates my "neigbors" based on Amon Tobin, Antipop, and Venetian Snares. Given that there has to be SOME other people on who listen to some of that other stuff, like, for example, the top 5, which are never represented in my "neighbors," their weighting algorithm is completely fucked.


May.24.2007 @ 1:52 PM
elle plays everything in their database - you don't have to pay for play. I can't explain to you exactly how figures it all out, but what I can say is that it depends on how well your songs are tagged, how many people are listening to them, how many times they listen to them, and what other songs/artists they are listening to. If it's just you running a playlist in iTunes all day, you aren't going to generate a whole lot of statistical info. The powerplay simply allows you to generate more statistical info, in a shorter period of time, by playing your song to a smaller, target audience. If you purchase a powerplay for a song you are also giving away on, users can hear it, like it, tag it, download it, play it - and the end result is, you're no longer the only person feeding info into the database.

If you're offended by pay for play, you absolutely, positively must turn off terrestrial radio immediately, and you can never, ever watch another opening band. Actually, you can never be an opening band either, at least not on a tour, cuz you'd have to pay for that too. This is the music business, and I'm sorry to say that business is the operative word. So, to gerald, I'm sorry, but you can't call it a "hobby" and then say you're SOL. It doesn't matter if you're making songs, or taking photos, or knitting baby booties - if you want your hobby to make you money, you have to make your hobby your job.



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