Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Day Job Dilemna

I'm anxiously sitting here at my admin job at quarter to 6 on a Wednesday waiting for my boss to leave, when what I REALLY want to be doing is standing in front of my microphone, figuring out a melody for one the new DCCs tracks.  But I know that by the time I take my 45 minute commute home, I will be starving and lifeless, and WORSE, creativity-less.  This lends to the age-old self-haunting question  -- when can I quit my day job? 
I'm a lucky one.  I know this.  I have a job, which is something a lot of people right now cannot say.  And it affords me to be able to live in kick-ass New York City and buy microphones and guitars.  But I can't help but wonder, how much do I really need this steady money, and what toll is this 40 hour work week taking on my songwriting?  I'd love to hear some thoughts from other artists...anyone?  Success stories?  Advice?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Jango is a waste, don't bother

So it's been three months since we went nuts with Jango's airplay system, and the results were...well, disappointing.  I had no real illusions about the service making or breaking us, but I did expect to see at least moderate success.  First a little back story...

The Delancey festival offered - as part of the signup process - the option to get 50 free plays on Jango's airplay system.  That meant we could upload a few of our tracks, and have them played right after any artist(s) currently in Jango's regular circulation.  So, for example, we could have one of our tracks played right after a Lady GaGa track and the listener would see a popup asking whether they liked or disliked what they were hearing.  If the user chose "yes", then they would see a page that asked for (optional) comments on the track, band etc.  When this happens, we get an email saying that someone has become our "fan", and that we could go on to contact them directly with show notices or whatever.  The idea is to create a one-on-one relationship with each person who (claims to have) liked our music.

After a trickle of new "fans" turned to a steady stream of 5-10 new ones per day, I thought, "This is great!  We're getting far more exposure than we've ever had, and people seem to be reacting well to what they hear.  Wonderful!"  So I bought 4000 more plays at around $100.  Seemed like a slam-dunk investment.  $100 for 4000 plays meant $0.025 per play.  4000 plays got us around 80+ "fans", which is about 2% of the people who had a chance to hear a given track.  Normally 1% is considered a decent ROI for most marketing campaigns, so 2% seemed about right for such a highly-targeted system.  (There were also stretches where we upped that to more like 5%, which was simply exhilarating to watch unfold each day).

So all seemed great on the face of it, and though I'm not entirely convinced that its useless (building an international emailing list is worth the price alone), but there is one ENORMOUS problem:  not even one of the people who became a "fan" bought any tracks!  Not one!  When we got our reports from emusic, itunes, amazon, etc. for the month we supposedly acquired almost 500 new "fans", I was absolutely stunned.

At first I thought, "This has to be a mistake.  We're don't suck THAT badly, do we?"  Perhaps we are not as excellently awesome as would like to believe, but not a single track?  None?!?  Can't be.  We received comments on our Jango profile page like "You rock!" and "keep it up" and "love it".  Why would someone take the time to write such things and then not pick up even a single track?

Then I thought, perhaps we set up our "Buy Now" links incorrectly.  Nope.  They all worked fine.

I finally came to unfortunate conclusion that Jango is probably either rigging the numbers to keep people hooked on purchasing plays after the initial trial period, or far overstating the meaning of a new "fan".  They recently started using "new fan" and "song like" interchangeably, which makes me think that they are trying to boost the number of new "fans" reported in the weekly updates.   So when we get an email saying "JoeXYZ has become your fan!", what they really mean is that user clicked the "I like it" button to get past the "Support Jango" nagger screen so they can continue listening to music for free.  The listener, after all, is not paying Jango a dime.  The artists and advertisers do.  Well not us.  Not anymore.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Surf Bar

Sometimes the best songs are written on the fly, or while waiting for someone to show up to the bar where you're supposed to meet. I ended up finishing song lyrics at Surf Bar last night while waiting for a friend who was a half hour late for Tiki drinks. Oh well. She actually did me a favor. Cheers! Dead Copycats.