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#FollowFriday @ianshepherd

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At Musformation we have decided to follow Twitters lead and suggest you a Twitter feed we find to be totally awesome every week. We figure it is time to show people by example who is using Twitter right and good the awesome resources it holds.

Ian Shepherd maintains a blog we really like called Production Advice. He also keeps up a Twitter feed that shows you exactly how to be an active member of your community. Consitently linking useful information and awesome links he rules at Twitter. Follow him.
Product Advice's Ian Shepherd has up a great article on a questionable move by music industry savior Spotify. In this article he discusses the way Spotify evens out volumes from track to track and how imposing a brick wall limiter on some tracks leaves them a distorted gangly mess. Ian goes into great depths of explanation leaving you with a great article and a thorough dicussion of the subject.

Inside The Web Sheriff

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The Guardian's Helienne Lindvall has up a great look inside what is being done to prevent the leaks of records by the service known as The Web Sheriff. For those of you not familiar the sheriff runs around the Internet stopping leaks and intimidating users who try to put up leaks of their clients records. The service inspires many a laughs but this article touches on some greater points of some of the ease in preventing file sharing that has yet come to the music world. A great read not to be missed.
I remember it like it was yesterday, I booked a house show at my apartment for the middle of the summer with a few of my friends bands and a good friend who was out on tour. I figured my apartment could hold 300 or so people, so I would promote it pretty heavily. I flyered, posted to every Internet listing, texted everyone I knew and by my count had 150-200 people confirmed to come. I discovered one problem along the way, that day was also the Siren Fest in Coney Island, a huge free outdoor event with multiple acts where everyone in attendance gets sunburned to a crisp and totally exhausted. Though my show started after the Fest was done it did not seem to matter. Around 8 PM I received tons of texts that everyone was too tired and beat from the earlier festivities (soaking in 98 degree heat all day) and my attendance was down to about 50 people.

Had I picked up the local concert listing paper (The Village Voice) in advance this disaster could have been avoided. There are often times you get so excited when you finally get an awesome gig offer or play a venue you are going to want to promote, but there will be no chance of good attendance. Just try getting a good crowd out the night before Thanksgiving in NYC when everyone has gone back to the suburbs for the weekend. In some cases no amount of promotion is going to get you a good attendance result. Stay aware and alert of what other happenings are going on around a date if you are going to pour hundreds of dollars into promotion for a gig or invite important people out to show off your huge following. Otherwise, you could be left looking like a chump.
Traffic can be one of the worst pains of your life if you are a touring band. Thankfully, technology is catching up to this problem and there is becoming more and more ways to avoid this plague of modern life. Aha Mobile is another one of these technological advances that will give you real-time traffic reports for where ever you are headed in the US. This free App gives user reports of traffic delays via a shout room so they are not BS estimates from a state authority. Get yours.
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Everyone is buzzing about how Amanda Palmer has come to the defense of asking for money from fans and the lack of guilt she has for it. While she does make a great point about her street musician background giving her a lack of guilt for the request, I think she briefly touches upon a greater point.

With more and more artists going their own way and looking to connect "direct to fan" some of the more "entitled" fans seem appalled you are asking for money. With that said, from my experience when you have a middleman (label) asking for this money some people seem to no longer question the request for money. Once it is seen that you are a part of "the system" it is as if some of the more connection challenged fans understand why you are charging.

I have begun to wonder about the problems DIY/go-it-alone artists are going to face with this. As a producer I have found that having management deal with problems where I need to ask for more money keeps me as the good guy, and the management as the guy who has to deal with a bottom line. When the manager is a dick, I have been able to say, "I'm not good with money and I need this guy to do that side of things otherwise I'd be broke and homeless." My questions is this an issue DIY artists with strong fan bonds are looking at dealing with? Amanda's blog post adresses the issue that many of the professionals she is working with are feeling guilted for charging for content these days. So what I ask is whether we are about to see an era where the go-it-alone artists need to adopt a less personal connection with fans in order to keep the arms length from the guilt givers? Are DIY artists going to have their arms pinned back by those in the "music should be free" community, where as right now those on labels can stand behind their label bodygaurds and claim innocence?

Above is a video of Moby explaining his Gratis license that explains his idea that non-profit and indie film makers should be allowed to use his music for free. This is a fantastic idea (even if he did come up with it in 2007) and a great way to get your music heard by more people. I do not think I am the only person who has sat through 5 minutes of boring credits to try to identify a song I have loved in a movie, only to go and buy that song the second I can. Not only does this help more people become fans of your music, but it shows other film makers the potential your music brings to the mood of a film, as well as giving back to a deserving community that is far too under-funded.

We save you the trouble of going to a million websites and just tell you what garbage is worth skimming over.

We are big fans of the "YouTube Artist" (aka bands who make songs with the intent of YouTube being the primary format for their music) and we are happy to see the launch of DFTBA Records which releases music for these artists. If you know of an awesome YouTube artist or would want to get involved with this endeavor check out their site. BTW these seem like some artists that could make great iTunes LPs!
We have been doing a lot of coverage on the iTunes LP seeing as it is a exciting new way to give fans extra content that has yet to see any of it's potential reached. With that said, ARS has taken a in depth look at the fetus and already told it that it will never attend Harvard and win the Nobel Peace Prize. While this look does take a good look at some of the inner workings of the format, we think it is too early to deem it so insignificant seeing as the format has tons of potential for an innovative architect to make this a viable and interesting format. Time will tell but we are calling this baby healthy.

Spotify Adds Offline Playing To The Desktop

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For 99.9% of the bands out there their goal is to sign with a record label.  Call it an acknowledgement of the hard work, a badge of pride for the years of sacrifice, gutting it out on the road, a platform for personal expression, delusions of money, whatever - the goal is to get signed.  The truth is, getting signed is pretty damn hard on one hand and incredible easy on the other.  Easy because in today's industry there are hundreds of thousands of bush league labels and so called "label executives" looking to nickel and dime you.  Assuming you have good judgment, stay away from these clowns.  As for the beneficial situations, getting signed to a record label is pretty damn hard.  There are layers upon layers of gatekeepers to push past in order to eventually, hopefully, sit down with the right person, the decision maker, in order to make your 10 minute pitch.  If you can make it this far God bless you; but remember you need to deliver something different to standout because there are thousands of potential replacements waiting outside the door.  If you can get in the door I'll reveal the tricks to stay.   Unfortunately in today's industry, and you can argue with me until you're blue in the face, but your actual music isn't the deal maker.  Here are the 4 things executives will be secretly evaluate besides your music.  Arm yourself with these tricks and impress the decision makers while increasing the chances you'll get signed:  READ ALL AT MUSIC GLOBALIZATION

Today, I read a post Martin Atkins wrote on The Live Music Machine where he pointed out the power of the widget that this site enables. While we took a look at the site recently, we missed this part of the service. The Live Music Machine widget gives you some of the essential data that Eventful gives you like showing you where your fans want you to play but a whole lot more. Fans are able to make bids for you to play or rally support and get fellow fans to sign up to show that you are in demand in a certain area. Very cool. To find out more watch the above video and if you are convinced I would highly suggest adding this widget to all of your sites. 

At some of the last shows I have been to I have been excited by some of the creativity I have seen in the merch bands have been putting out. While everyone wants their merch to go "viral" sometimes it is a mix of the medium and the design that helps this to happen. Whether you experiment with tote bags, patches (crusty punk style), large back patches for denim jackets (80's style) or whatever trying out unique ideas with your merch could hit a chord with your fans and demand could become huge. Recently, Man Overboard (who we interviewed last week) experimented with printing some of their designs on bandannas and tote bags. Any of these things can lead to a new fashion trend, get creative and it could pay off in the end. Learn how to screen print and you can experiment with printing your logo on all sorts of mediums and see what sells and then move on to a bigger pressing. 

Jonathon Coulton is known for being a very prolific songwriter who make a living off his music minus any label support. He is one of the most celebrated stories of an artist surviving on their own and doing it smart and well. Berklee's Mike King has done a great interview that I would suggest giving a listen to by anyone who wants to live off their music minus label support.
The Performance Rights Act is one of those things that affects every musician. Right now if you hear Aretha Franklin's version of Otis Redding's "Respect" on the radio, Otis receives royalties but Aretha does not. This act would change that and give performers compensation for their distinct art and voice. If you want to learn more about this head to the jump and see a blown up version of a flyer on the subject or right click and download it to see it in high res.

Mark Mulligan On Why Music And Free Don't Mix

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This week, we put in some discussion of how to stay in the news cycle and generate hype for your next release. One of the smartest things you can do if you plan to put out a song in advance is to trade it for an email address. In the above widget, you can see Sloan did just that using a TopSpin enabled widget that cleverly gets your email before giving you a free download.While TopSpin isn't available to everyone you can do this via ReverbNation's Exclusive Track feature which you can send to only people who are on your mailing list. Not quite as easy but it still works to get the same result.

How Much Is A Fan Worth To You?

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Piracy got your head down. Fancy yourself a rant on how no one is standing up for musicians rights as we are told to give away our music for free and it is worth nothing? Well there is a petition for you to sign! The Copyright Alliance is delivering a letter to your boyfriend Barack Obama telling him and his stiff-faced buddy Nancy Pelosi that we need some legislation to protect the copyrights that artists own. If you are into that sort of thing, go sign up here.
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It is no secret that online radio is one of the best ways to promote your music. With services like Pandora, Last.FM, Jango, Blip.FM and other services not only can you get your music before the ears of listeners who like the type of music you make, but you can also get paid for your plays as you begin to dominate the online radio airwaves.

It all comes down to this. As you come down to entering the studio and then recording your songs you are now tasked with one of the most difficult balancing acts ever known to man (ok... well maybe to musicians). We have written countless articles on how to avoid many of the pitfalls many musicians fall into when they go to capture their material. Read on and make something great for us all to hear.

With everyday, as the gatekeepers die and the major labels lose power it becomes more and more about just having a great song. This being the case you better start brushing up on your skills! We have assembled a lot of advice and tools for you to use to write better songs on the other side of this link.

When trying to break your music out of your circle of friends and out to the whole world, you are inevitably going to have to take on the hat of doing some publicity for your own music. As you begin to take on this large task there is numerous bits of advice that you may have overlooked on how to do this effectively. We have assembled numerous articles on how to take over the world of music and get it out there.

Now that you actually have songs recorded you need to get them out to the world to be heard. With every day that passes more and more amazing tools become available for artists to do this without the help of a label. We keep an up to date guide of everything you could ever want to know about what you should do in order to make the right choice on how to get your music out to the world.

Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Tumblr, YouTube all become more and more important everyday (well maybe not Myspace, but contrary to much chatter it is still important to know the most up to date ways to make Myspace feed your other pages). We keep musicians up to date with the most current ways to use all of these social networks to promote your music. If you are not reading our guides to social networks you are missing out on the crucial knowledge of how to promote your music with the most up to date techniques.

What separates the winners and losers is how well you handle playing live and then getting your show on the road. Playing live and touring may seem easy but there are countless pitfalls that one can encounted over time. We show you all the new tricks of the trade as well as wise advice that has been passed down over the years.

Managing a group of people and keeping everyone on the same page and motivated is one of the biggest make or break factors of any sucessful group. There are many emerging tools that can make this easier and we sort through them, all the while dispensing valuable advice on how to deal with your members with minimal chaos.

Getting covered by blogs is fast becoming one of the things that everyone wants to figure out. Sadly, there is not a lot of information out there on how to do just this. We have quite a few articles with the techniques we use to get the bands we work with on to some of the top blogs out there.