Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Haystack Now In "Public Preview"

So what is Haystack? A social discovery network for music and music only. We took the best elements of social media optimization (think digg or and built it upon a community of listeners and artists. We also have a group of users, called Tastemakers, who are established authorities on music.

From the Haystack FAQ:
Tastemakers are influencers within the Haystack community and are trusted sources for music recommendations. Tastemakers can be established music experts like producers, writers or DJ’s or just friends who you look to for suggestions on “what’s next.” A great Tastemaker can bring an unheard artist to the masses, or revive a forgotten release to its glory days.
The final component is a built-in library of music, where the artists and labels are compensated, using our RightsNow Media Royalty. We currently have almost a thousand major, indie, and unsigned bands and tons more will be uploaded over the next few weeks.

There are many many more features currently available, as well as in the works... but I hope you take the time to check out this early pr

To check out my profile:

Don't believe me? Listen to what Greg Verdino at Digitas and Daily Candy have to say about Haystack.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Idolator Says College Radio Is Bullshit

In the second part of their secret interview series, Idolator talks to a label college radio promotion person, and gets the straight dope.

Here's a summary:
  • College radio programmers love to name drop, but do not really know who Sebadoh is.
  • Adds and college charts are an irrelevant barometer of success that exist only to please out-of-touch higher ups.
  • Records are seldom, if ever, added on merit- it's all politics.
  • A large percentage of charts are totally fake.
Besides a handful of stations like WSOU, Blackout! never really was big into spending money on buying overpriced trade ads, or indie promotions teams. I always felt that tour support yielded a much better ROI.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

CMJ Wrap Up

Aside from today's Haystack/ V2/ L-Magazine party I didn't really attend a ton of CMJ events this week. However, I was fortunate enough to moderate a panel called Improving Retail Relations With Labels and Distributors. The main focus of discussion was how indie retailers and record labels can help one another in pursuit of their shared business goals in a changing marketplace.

In addition to yours truly, my fellow panelists were:
  • Pat Egan, Director of Retail Sales, Relapse Records
  • Audrey Faine, Director of Marketing, Kill Rock Stars/5RC
  • Michael Kurtz, President, Music Monitor Network
  • Carl Mello, Senior Buyer, Newbury Comics
(Unfortunately, nobody currently who works at a distribution company was on the panel.)

Here are a few of the panel's observations about the current music landscape:

  1. Music has been devalued. Music loss leader status at the mass consumer level. Apple uses music to sell iPods, Best Buy to sell refrigerators. But the net effect puts the squeeze on indie retail because it simply cannot compete at that level.
  2. Distributors concentrate on big box stores. Another problem is that distribution companies put a tremendous amount of emphasis on chain marketing programs at those large chain retailers. Distros defer to the big box stores who can deliver thousand piece orders in their game of pennies. Distributors then turn to the labels, who are compelled to spend $3 a unit on a "micro-marketing campaign" which in reality translates to a piece on a shelf (IF you can actually get compliance.)
  3. Shift in consumer behavior. There's also been a shift in the consumer base. At one point, niche albums for niche crowds were served by specialty retailers and ignored by the chains. In addition, the epicenter of music community has shifted from a geographic location (record stores in major cities) to a virtual one (the web.)

So, with all these problems, how will indie stores survive to help indie labels break new bands?

  1. Re-establish themselves as the hub of community. The whole panel agreed on this. Carl indicated Newbury is doing this by expanding into suburban malls, and going head to head with "lifestyle" stores such as Hot Topic on their own turf. Other stores are morphing into a music related coffee house and performance spaces, where the small and growing artists can find a voice. Another idea brought forward was also to bring in special screenings of concert films or documentaries to retail (ex. Movies like American Hardcore aren't playing on a national level.)
  2. Embrace the internet. Pandora's box isn't closing. Ergo, stores also need to harness the power of the web to reaffirm the discovery and tastemaking ability of knowledgeable record store people. (cough, Haystack, cough.) Instead of just moving coupons or email blasts... stores need to know how to better utilize what's out there in emerging technologies to better serve their local market.
  3. Labels need to keep supporting the indies. Special tools such as in-store artist appearances, special releases for indie stores will enable stores to draw traffic.
It would be great to hear from others in the trenches on this. Perhaps we can do a virtual follow up to this panel via Skype and issue it as podcast.