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#714053 - 04/24/09 09:53 PM Legitimizing Pay-for-Play  
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Now that the CRB has established performance royalties for Internet Radio broadcasters, two Internet Radio companies, Last FM and Jango, are using Pay-for-Play mechanisms, in addition to online advertising as part of their business model to generate additional revenue and offset royalty costs.

In their attempt to act like terrestrial radio and deliver music for free, by selling online advertising, the new royalty rates make it difficult for most Internet Radio companies to continue operating under this ad based business model without either, charging listeners for access, or charging artists trying for recognition.

We already know that charging listeners is unsuccessful, meaning that Pay-for-Play will become a legitimate revenue resource. If in fact, this is true, and all Internet Radio Stations start charging Pay-for-Play fees. Most artists will have to pick and choose which station they want to Pay-to-Play, because it is unlikely that you can afford them all. Which Internet Radio Stations have the best audience attraction and therefore the best opportunity of attracting the most artists?

#714266 - 04/25/09 01:27 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: ArtistPreneur]  
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Hi Artist,

I can answer that question in one word...NONE!!

Internet Radio Has a hard time selling advertising because of the numbers issues, and if that's the business model they invoke, it is certain suicide, for that, and several other reasons.

There's Main stream radio, who regardless of their "Love it or leave it attitude", maintain the largest group of listeners world wide, which is why they get the largest share of advertising dollars. Then theirs Satellite Radio,with the second largest group of listeners when it comes to the open airwaves, and then of course the very unportable internet radio. The key to Internet Radios success or failure will be resolved on that one issue and that one issue alone.

Right now, because of the numbers issue, Satellite radio is struggling to survive.They have that issue because unlike Mainstream Radio, their ability to deliver their product to every household, and every vehicle is somewhat limited. Combine that fact with the prospect that the pay per use model just isn't catching on as quickly as everyone thought it would, and you have the recipe for a struggling business.

Internet radio has the same issue, only they are even worse off than satellite was when it comes to delivering their product, and availability.

Satellite radio has made major gains in the market by the car radio industry adding satellite stations to the family car radio.
Independent companies have started making and selling receivers, and programming packages, for businesses to have satellite stations pumped into their facilities, to compete with the old Musak system, and eventually they will make, or probably do already, home radios and stereo systems that allow the listener home access as well.

Internet radio on the other hand is still waiting for an affordable solution to let their listeners take them with them where ever they go. There are plans for an additional antenna system that will allow internet streaming to be pumped into your car radio, but I believe there are certain drawbacks to it that limit its marketability at this time. I think that the internet stations have a better chance of competing with Musak, based on the fact that few of them have DJ personalities who want to inflict their opinions on their listeners, most of them just play music, and that's all most businesses want to have, but as of yet no one has picked up that ball and ran with it.

Secondly, I think you'll find that if most artists, or songwriters, have to pay to have their songs heard on internet radio,they will opt out. The better ones anyways. The only folks doing that are the people who can't get mainstream play, either here, or in Europe. In my opinion if the only alternative I have to getting my songs played on the radio is to pay some one to play them, especially internet radio, then I need to get out of the business, and I think most other creditable songwriters and artists will feel the same way. Making the grade,knowing what we do is good enough to make folks want to listen to it, and radio stations play it, is what strokes our ego's. It's our barometer of quality.

Add to that the fact that revenues are just trickling down to the independent singer/ songwriters, and it is highly unlikely that many Singers or Songwriters will want to take on that added expense.

About a year ago I came to the conclusion that paying anyone to let me upload my music to their site was a waste of money, other than CDBaby of course. I feel the same way about paying for plays on internet radio.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Billy Darnell

#714272 - 04/25/09 01:47 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Billy Darnell]  
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Originally Posted by Billy Darnell

Secondly, I think you'll find that if most artists, or songwriters, have to pay to have their songs heard on internet radio,they will opt out. The better ones anyways. The only folks doing that are the people who can't get mainstream play, either here, or in Europe. In my opinion if the only alternative I have to getting my songs played on the radio is to pay some one to play them, especially internet radio, then I need to get out of the business, and I think most other creditable songwriters and artists will feel the same way.


I believe that the vast majority of Mainstream radio has been pay to play for years.....that's what the $500k that record labels spend on "promotion" is.

My guess is that the future of music is in selling advertising. Music will be given away free and paying advertisers will piggyback on whatever system is used, whether that is iTunes, MySpace, Sirius, or whatever. The musician's challenge from a business standpoint will be figuring out how to get a share of the advertising revenue which will probably come from royalties, endorsements and sponsors, not sales. Sad, but I think true.....and yes, a lot of small timers will do it just for fun or give up altogether.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#714288 - 04/25/09 02:26 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Colin Ward]  
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Interesting perception Colin. Your right , that money spent on greasing the wheels, regardless if it was spent as payola , or propaganda marketing concept, or hype, was a form of paying to get your music played.

I always find it interesting to go check out the ECMA charts and see the really big names, here in the states, not in the top 40 charts over there.

The reason is the industry considers it a small market and invests very little money in advertising there. Without all the hype and the propaganda their super stars don't fair as well in the open market.

Billy Darnell

#714368 - 04/25/09 07:28 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Billy Darnell]  
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Originally Posted by Billy Darnell
Hi Artist,

I can answer that question in one word...NONE!!

...Secondly, I think you'll find that if most artists, or songwriters, have to pay to have their songs heard on internet radio, they will opt out.... Making the grade, knowing what we do is good enough to make folks want to listen to it, and radio stations play it, is what strokes our ego's. It's our barometer of quality....

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Billy Darnell


Billy,

I like that you say..."...making the grade, is an artist's barometer of quality..." I truly understand the pride of ownership in that statement. Creatively speaking, voluntary audience participation is a rewarding measure of success.

However, looking at it from a business perspective, it seems that, at least as far as you are concerned, there is absolutely no marketing value to be had by paying to advertise your brand on any Internet Radio station and that even if an artist is good enough to be on radio, and should be on radio, they should leave the attention getting mechanism, what ever it happens to be, up to pure dumb luck.

I think is it always difficult to balance one’s philosophy about creative success, earned by virtue of personal discovery and recognition to commercial success, earned by virtue of using savvy sales and marketing techniques to accelerate recognition.

I know that for many artists, the act of creation is reward enough. Any money derived from creation is merely gravy. However, there are many others that see music as a business and they measure success in a different way. Both of which include recognition.

I prefer recognition with reward and that is why I posed the original question about where and how artists might spend a very thin marketing dollar in the event that Pay-for-Play becomes a more standard reality.

#714620 - 04/26/09 06:02 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: ArtistPreneur]  
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Billy,

The real question is:

Are you willing to compete?

In a ferociously competitive industry, are you willing to advertise your own music to prove it belongs, or are you willing to rely on dumb luck and just try to compete with 'free'?

#714637 - 04/26/09 07:28 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: ArtistPreneur]  
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Well artist, first of all, I don't think it's about competing, if you could compete you wouldn't need the pay per play model to begin with, secondly there are many other avenues of getting your songs out there that are absolutely free, so why go that route?

There are literally hundreds of music sites, with thousands of listeners, where I can place music for free. It doesn't cost me a dime.

Additionally, I have 3 or 4 hundred DJ's that are willing to play my music on the internet and Am/Fm stations through out the world. They don't charge me a dime.

I don't think anyone gets to this point not having been willing to pay anything, that's for sure. However, like a retirement plan, or any other long term investment, one has to choose how to invest from the many options that exist. I just don't believe your scenario is the best possible route to pursue that's all.

What makes you believe that if the pay per use thing didn't work when applying it to the listener it's going to be anymore successful when applying it to the songwriters, or artists? Especially when there are a heck of a lot more listeners than artists.

Last but not least before you invest foolishly you should do some research. Let me tell you what I know for a fact about Jango.

Jango is rated by alexa at about a 2700 ranking. Their percentage of traffic of all internet users is shown to be 0.044% not even 1%. Other site linking to them number 998, not what I would consider a major player in their market. Many other sites, ranks much higher. 42% of their visitors come from within the United States, outside the U.S. their largest consumers are China, Russia, Japan, and Brazil. I might note that 3 of those 4 countries are known to have the highest piracy issues in the world, Thought that was kind of intersting.

The average user of jango spends about 3.2 minutes per visit, hardly enough time to listen to much music.

I think the other thing you have to understand are the demographics of jango. The average user is a male, 21 years of age, most of whom have no college education, which indicates to me that they are in the lower 30% of income earners in the world, and probably not your best overall target group for selling music.

The results for lastfm.com are even worse, they reach less than 0.00005 % of all internet users, and don't even rank in the top 100,000 percentile when it comes to traffic of all sites similar. Average time spent at the site per visitor 0.3 minutes.
I bet they are sampling a lot of music on that site...lol.

Now compare them to www.soundclick.com which doesn't charge a play per song fee, their traffic ranking is 2742, they reach only 0.024% of all internet users but the average time spent by users on their site is 9.5 minutes per user, they have over 7,ooo other sites linking in to their site,and their average user is a male about 23 years of age, with a college education..hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...Why would you want to pay Jango or lastFm to play your music if no one is hearing it, and those that do probably aren't buying music anyways? Think I'll stick to the free sites, at least if no one is listening to them, it didn't cost me anything.

I hope that answers your questions about the pay per play issue.

Billy Darnell

#714647 - 04/26/09 08:35 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Billy Darnell]  
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Hi Billy,
Those facts are very interesting, but you're missing a major point here, Soundclick is not a radio station. Therefore it's like comparing ducks with chickens ! On Soundclick, people have to search for and choose what they listen to. This works in your favour if your style is popular, but doesn't compare to a radio station's captive audience in any way, shape, or form ?

Regards,

Geordie


Don't ya just love writing songs
#714664 - 04/26/09 09:54 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Geordieswords]  
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Billy,

Thanks for the facts and figures, those are important for people to see if they are interested in Pay-for-Play business models. It demonstrates some of the things that artists should be paying attention to when thinking about how to best market their music business and it is obvioius that you do pay attention!

But, I agree with Geordieswords comments. Soundclick, garageband, Purevolume and others offer free and paid services and wratchet down the service level to the amount paid. But, they make you work for your music by virture of time consuming search or offsite links from other services which brings me back to discovery by pure dumb luck.

What I am trying to say is that I think there is a business model in the Pay-for-Play scenario that should be supported if it does something new to promote your business. Maybe not LastFM or Jango but maybe Pandora or another company.

In an environment with unlimited shelf space, what shelf do you want to be on in the store? The one on the bottom, the top or in the middle at eye level beside all of the other name brand products.

#714665 - 04/26/09 10:01 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Geordieswords]  
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The point was that sound click though not a radio station offered me by far more opportunity for exposure than the two radio stations that apparently no one stays to listen to, I'm sorry I thought people searched for a style and choose a radio station they want to listen too as well. not really all that different in the long run.

The real point here is neither of these two stations have a captive audience, if any, which brings us to the age old question, if a tree falls in the dead forest and there's no one there to hear it does it make a noise?

#714675 - 04/26/09 10:47 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Billy Darnell]  
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Once again I pose the question that if the listeners weren't willing to participate in this system, what makes anyone think that artists and songwriters will?

Geordieswords, I agree that one good radio station is better than 20 sound clicks, and they were both meant to serve different purposes, but a radio station with no audience, is like an airport with no planes, the general concept is sound, but without all the pieces they are both rather unproductive, and you won't find many people standing in line to buy stock in either of them.

Those sites like sound click by themselves aren't enough but when combined with real radio play, they are a useful economical tool to make yourself known. Once again, do the research, find the most visited, and then post there.

My points were first of all before you go jumping on the band wagon, do the research, secondly, there are many other very productive ways to gain exposure if you offer a quality product.
I don't believe you will find any artist that is experiencing any degree of success participating in this type of venture.

I guess I should consider myself fortunate to already have the exposure level that I enjoy, but I worked for it. I think through experience I know a little about promoting and marketing on the internet, and if you doubt that just google my name, you'll see I have been a busy beaver the last year and a half, and I didn't spend $500,000 to get that exposure, more like maybe $1000. I am not saying this to toot my own horn but, I think it's important for you all to realize I don't speak from subjective assumption, if I am talking about it, I generally have some real life experience in it, and given that experience I believe any that has to utilize this system to get air play on dead radio waves, is wasting their time, efforts , and money.

Thats just my opinion.

Billy Darnell


#715080 - 04/28/09 02:34 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Billy Darnell]  
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Billy,

I'm not convinced that the 7,000 sites linking to Soundclick aren't just other artists linking from their own site to their own music. How does that benefit you, if they aren't searching for you're music?

If you spent countless hours developing a cross link network, how much time did you spend and how much is your time worth?

In addition, spending 9.5 minutes of time on Soundclick is just enough time to check your last post on the boards and it is much, much less than the average listener spends listening to Internet Radio servered up for them. For example, here are some old statistics from an April 2007 report from Bridge Ratings that can be viewed here as well: http://www.bridgeratings.com/press_04.18.07.Internet%20RadioUpd-.htm

"The entire sample can be viewed based on how many hours a week they spend listening to Internet Radio. We break out the entire sample into 5 groups or Quintiles each Quintile is associated with the number of hours per week listened.

Quintile V (heaviest listening) - 20+ hours per week
Quintile IV (next heaviest) - 15-19 hours per week
Quintile III (moderate) - 10-14 hours per week
Quintile II (light listening) - 6-9 hours per week
Quintile I (lightest listening) - less than 6 hours per week"

I stand by my question, if Pay-for-Play becomes a standard artists will have to choose which shelf they want to be on in order to compete.


Last edited by ArtistPreneur; 04/28/09 02:35 AM.
#715092 - 04/28/09 03:31 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: ArtistPreneur]  
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Billy had it mostly right in his first response.

But Soundclick is a silly comparison to anything that matters in the music industry. That's a site populated by artists/writers and listened to by the exact same group. I bet less than 10% of their traffic comes from interested listeners without a direct vested interest in someone already on the site (i.e. themselves, their spouse/sig other, relative or close friend). Music fans would be nuts to go there looking randomly for music or trusting their "charts" or rankings as meaning anything. And they don't. (Sorry to rain on people's Soundclick parade... it's a great free hosting site, but that's about it).

Internet Radio can't make any money. Neither can companies like MySpace Music. They have no idea what to do with their gigantic database and user numbers. Their traffic dwarfs anything you mentioned above and yet they can't make a dime. And their supposed 17 million artists on the site that they've claimed in the press (a number I don't believe) can't generate any income for them to make a profit.

There's a lot of models that can work. I know one that I was just discussing tonight (and won't announce here at this time) which might solve all the problems without ruining the experience for the listener (critical) or costing the artist money (they don't have any anyway) or losing money for the station (they don't have any money either). It's complex but it's rational and works on a reasonable level. No pie in the sky ridiculous promises to anyone.. just a sane and rational and menthodical working solution for music fans, music makers and music facilitators to work together. Stay tuned for info on that hopefully after our JPF awards when I might be able to talk about it.

Until that or some other useful plan comes about, there's nothing to replace traditional radio. And anyone who spends a dime to pay anyone to play their music deserves to waste their money down an endless dead end drain. I am not even sure that doing so would ever even make you eligible for royalties because that type of blatant payola would never be allowed to work. In otherwords if you, as the artist/writer give something of value to the broadcaster in exchange for airplay, that is payola. Though you may theorize that because it's not over the public airwaves that payola laws and rules would not apply, but I am not sure I agree. Such an attempt to defraud the royalty system as authorized by the government would seem to be to either be already illegal or certainly heading quickly in that direction. If there is a legal loophole, it seems like someone at a PRO would close it pretty quickly.

And let's face it, the only person who will benefit from paying for airplay is the people taking your money. It's just a bonehead idea all around.

The best you could hope for is to get some airplay, be heard by someone who likes you and then watch them as they go get your music free from any number of resources. Heck, you can get nearly anything decent on YouTube anytime you want. Just type in the name of the song you want. Most of them are there in one form or another. Or you can pay several services less than the cost of a CD each month and have use and access to any music available digitally you want as much as you want.

Create great music.. learn how to perform it well and have fun. until you do all those things to the best of your ability (and few do) there's no much else to really worry about.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#715099 - 04/28/09 04:21 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Good points Brian, the thought of this being a form of Payola had crossed my mind, and I agree that pay per play has no future, for an arsenal of reasons.

I can't wait to hear your new structure for marketing music, the new music industry is certainly crying for one.

Artist, we could debate the " what if " issues from dawn til dusk, and in the end I think we would both agree to disagree.

Personally I don't believe that pay per play will ever become a standard, therefore there's not much warrant in debating the pro's or con's of it.

I think it would be much more beneficial to concentrate on the things being done today that do work. That's what is really relevant to myself and other songwriters.

I appreciate the intellectual banter, but I think we have wore this one out.

Billy Darnell

#715212 - 04/28/09 02:10 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney


#1. Until that or some other useful plan comes about, there's nothing to replace traditional radio...that type of blatant payola would never be allowed to work. In otherwords if you, as the artist/writer give something of value to the broadcaster in exchange for airplay, that is payola.

#2. And let's face it, the only person who will benefit from paying for airplay is the people taking your money. It's just a bonehead idea all around.

#3. The best you could hope for is to get some airplay, be heard by someone who likes you and then watch them as they go get your music free from any number of resources.

#4. Create great music.. learn how to perform it well and have fun. until you do all those things to the best of your ability (and few do) there's no much else to really worry about.

Brian


Last comments and putting it to rest:

#1. You are 100% wrong, payola and pay-for-play are distinctly different animal. I highly suggest as Chief Moderator that you actually study FCC regulations before making blatantly false comments.

#2. Tell that to all the commercial advertisers selling products and services in the multi-billion dollar advertising industry on the radio and on the Internet. The sooner you recognize that music is a product then marketing it will be a no-brainer.

#3. As if nobody at a record label or any other radio professional ever listens to the radio? Brian, you make me laugh!

#4. Or, you could combine right brain creativity with left brain analytics and create a functional business model around your artwork. Or, if business is not your forte, just create! Either works depending on the individual.

#715842 - 04/30/09 05:04 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: ArtistPreneur]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Offline
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Artistpreneur,

It's all about context. The actual definition of Payola is paying money for the broadcast of music on radio. The illegal issue occurs if they don't announce that it's paid for each time it's played. Perhaps your internet radio station announces that before each song plays (wow, that must be a wondeful listening experience eh?) and if so, then they'd also have to make sure they did not report that airplay to the PRO's for royalty consideration. If they don't do those things, it's illegal payola. I don't know what their set up is and frankly it doesn't matter. Whether they follow those rules to make it legal or not, it's an entirely bad idea. And if they've found some loophole to get away with it and it's reported as valid airplay, it won't be for long. The PRO's do not tolerate fraudulent reporting nor does the government when it is exposed. And "paid for" airplay would be just that. Because I don't know exactly how they are doing it (since no one has discussed specifics here), I can't determine whether they follow the law or not. Neither can you unless you are inside their company and have all those facts. At best you have a theory. And your theory supports a really bad idea. So right or wrong about the legality issues, you're still supporting a bad thing.

But that's all kind of beside the point isn't it? Paying for airplay, even if it was 100% legal, is a losing issue. It lost many millions for the labels when they did it. They actually helped kill the system they created and fessed up to help put it to an end because they couldn't afford it any longer. (By the way, it still goes on, just in a different form than before but that's another discussion). We (myself and JPF along with our partners at the FOMC) were directly involved in the negotiations for the payola agreement which we co-authored and the labels all signed. We've been involved with this topic for a long time.

If large multinational corps. can't afford to pay money to see benefits in return for the expense of paying for play (legal or otherise), why would an indie artist? It's a completely absurd rip off tactic by scam artists who see a desperate sucker coming and shake them down while feeding their ego that they are getting "airplay" that at best is probably going out to a tiny audience who won't listen long when they realize that any moron willing to pay for it can get played. Who in their right mind would want to listen to a station where the playlist was made based on who paid the most on an internet radio station? At least with Label payola there's already a reasonable level of quality control to start off with. If Billy Joe Bob sold his waterbed and bought some airplay for his horrendously bad music, what possible benefit will he get? The answer is none. Nor will the listener likely ever come back after being subjected to something that sucks. There's too much access to too much great music. Why would anyone waste a second of their time?

Now let's get to some of your other statements.

#2: Companies are selling a product or service that will make them profits that significantly exceed the cost of advertising in a realiable manner. They don't run 1 ad 1 time to a small audience which is undefined and unreliable at best. They run relentless ads to a carefully researched audience with a long proven track record of return on investment. To compare commercial advertising with pay for play music is not a credible stretch. Though I am sure that many scam artists would love for people to believe it.

Music isn't a very profitable item by itself anymore and it takes gigantic sales numbers and economy of scale to really do well. Most retailers (of the few who even bother to sell music any more) see it as a loss leader and even that benefit has fallen by the way side. Major artists have to incorporate related goods (t-shirts, DVD's, concert tickets, fan clubs etc.) to try and make it. Indie artists are NOT going to get significant sales from getting pay for play airplay on internet radio because they could never afford to buy enough airplay to reach enough listeners to buy enough product to even break even. It's completely unrealistic. Joe Smith, indie artist, isn't Proctor and Gamble. Not even on a microscopic level. And the truth is that unless the music you make is so totally amazing that someone surfing through some lame ass internet rip off station that will play any piece of crap for money as long as someone pays, they will never even consider buying it in the first place. Even if they LOVED it, they'll quickly just go get it somewhere free, assuming they remember it 30 seconds later.

Few artists are so compelling that on a single listen people seek them out to purchase. It takes massive repeated listenings to break through or a large interested buying public. What are the odds you wouldn't run out of money long before that ever could happen? Again.. the economics behind your concept are ridiculous. I know people who have performed live on Letterman and Leno and didn't even see more than a tiny blip of sales afterwards. They got far more benefit from being able to tell venues they wanted to play that they performed on a nationally known TV show. But all those millions of people who saw them didn't run out to buy a CD because that's not what people do anymore, if they ever really did. And the bar is pretty high to get to play on those shows. I doubt very much that the average schmuck paying for internet radio play will be in their league. But they'll be able to get sales or the attention of a label exec? Really? Which leads us to.....

#3. Do you have any understanding how labels actually work? Record labels have a long list of artists they are considering based on a long list of business criterias, target markets, quarterly profits and losses and other factors that have zero to do with music. When they identify an artist that fits and serves those goals in the first place, it comes with a vetting process to determine many factors such as current success, local and regional audience marketshare (i.e. do you fill up concert venues in your area regularly), how large your built in fan base already is, what your age, gender and appearance is, etc. If you aren't showing up on the local Soundscan numbers, it's unlikely they'd even bother to research anything else about you. How many people paying for airplay are selling consistently around town via legit soundscan sources? Not many if any. All of these issues also have little to do with the actual music either. If you suck but you sell a lot on regional soundscan reports, they are going to be interested in you. If you are amazing but have no history or buzz, they will pass and wait until you do. All of those things must be satisfied. And guess what? They already have a backlog of artists they'd LOVE to sign if they ever had the freedom to do it. But they don't. Bean counters and attorney's give the majority of the green lights. And bean counters and attorney's aren't trolling third rate internet radio stations on the chance they might hear something good mixed in with all the crap. And we're not even talking about all the artists that come from trusted sources that they have to consider every week. It's neve ending. You actually think legit industry is listening to pay for play internet radio?

Only a tiny handful of mega powerful figures can even sign an artist without jumping through a myriad of legal and business hoops. And most of those folks jump through those hoops anyway, because they are hard core business people and those hoops help protect their investments (and do a poor job of it, but that's the reality). There is no such thing as an A&R person hearing a song on some backwards pay for play radio station and being so blown away that they will risk their entire career to even pitch that artist to their bosses. You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. It is as if you live in some parallel dream world of how you wish the industry worked. Your odds are far better with the lottery than your scenario ever happening. And a lottery ticket costs a buck. How much does the pay to play cost?

#4: People can play pretend music business all they want.. until they already have something of value to offer in the way of their music it's all just playland and theories and self delusions. Even if you do everything 100% right the odds are still very slim of significant commercial success. You have to be the right age, race, sex, nationality, genre, appearance and many other things to make it big time. Massive talent is simply the initial ticket to qualify for the game. And not many people have really serious talent in the first place, the kind that makes people stop what they are doing to listen or watch. Either that or you have to be the gimmick of the month like the various YouTube phenoms. Figuring that out would be a far better tactic and business plan than buying airplay.

Rational people will hunker down and make some great music or at least the best music they can make. That's the point after all isn't it? The commerce side is a secondary thing at best. If it isn't a secondary thing to you, then you need to go find a new hobby. We've spent a lot of time educating folks on rational and sane things to do and stupid scams to avoid. Paying for radio play of ANY kind, legal or otherwise, is a stupid scam you should avoid.

And finally, if you're going question my fitness to run this organization, you're going to have to come out from hiding and take responsibility for your words directly like an adult. It's one thing for you to be wrong, it's another to launch into an attack on my credibility while hiding behind a curtain so that your shortcomings don't stick when exposed. If you believe what you say, put your name behind it. Otherwise you're no different than just another annoying teenager playing dress up with the adults.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#715861 - 04/30/09 06:18 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Joe Wrabek Online content
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Finger-pointing and lambasting aside, I agree mostly with Brian on this one. If I have to pay to have my stuff played on the radio, then I guess I'm just not going to have my stuff played on the radio. I understand the world ain't 'zactly the way it's s'posed to be, but that doesn't mean I'm going to participate in something that ain't right just because it's there.

Ideally (and I know it's not an ideal world--you don't have to tell me), one's talent should be sufficient to get attention--and airplay. Paying for it removes talent from the equation as thoroughly as the Nashville beancounters did. And I won't go there.

If I told my fans at a concert that the only way I could get played on the radio was to pay for it, and I wasn't going to do that, they'd yell, "Hell, yeah!" and buy more records. Maybe I should start doing that.

Joe

#716128 - 05/01/09 04:42 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Joe Wrabek]  
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Brian,

My experience has taught me to pay attention to what I see and what I see is:

A terrestrial radio industry that would rather migrate to formats such as talk, news or sports than to pay a statutory rate of $5,000 plus a percentage of revenues;

An Internet radio industry that can not support itself in an ad based economy and pay SoundExchange;

And every fee-based, listener subscription model shutting down.

Don't even try to go down the road of music as a tax and think that everybody is willing to pay for access.

You are running out of resources faster than people can invent them and shooting down every idea that might help a small supportive business survive. All because you cling to the antiquated notion that the royalty system is still valid in a digital economy.

Based on what I see, most of the so called "any piece of crap" musicians you describe above are doing everything in their power to embrace change and adopt technology to try to carve out a living in the music business while the music industry tries to grapple with the ancient control structure that created this mess in the first place just so they can delay progress because believe it or not it is still a $30B industy that needs shelf space.

And BTW thanks for studying up.




#716132 - 05/01/09 05:03 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: ArtistPreneur]  
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Bob Cushing Offline
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Bottom line..never EVER pay for play! As someone who's gotten my share of airplay on internet stations and stations on the "south" end of the FM dial, it's not gonna make you famous ANYWAY, so why the hell PAY for it?


bc
#716133 - 05/01/09 05:08 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Bob Cushing]  
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Bob,

I don't know? I'm just trying to say there is another business model out there and it might be worth looking at.

According to Brian "any piece of crap musician" can pay for play but I bet they saturate the Internet for free before they pay. Do you see how that doesn't make any sense at all?

#716141 - 05/01/09 05:25 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: ArtistPreneur]  
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Well Guys it seems pay-for-play is working real hard at legitimizing itself. I got an email today from one of the companies that handles my first two CD's called, Nimibit, a company much like CDBaby.

Apparently Jango has struck a deal with them to affiliate themselves and offer their membership a special promo deal.

Normally you get 100 spins for $30, but if your an artist at Nimbet , they will give you 200 additional spins...wooooohoooooo!
In my humble opinion, nothing from nothing still leaves nothing.
It's still a monkey even if you dress it up in little kids clothing.

However it will be interesting to see how it does there.

I have been thinking about closing that account for quite sometime, this move by nimbit finally has pushed me over the edge. I will be sending them an email and withdrawing from their service fortwith.

In my opinion any company that would support this kind of idiocy is not looking out for the best interest of their customers at all. This has always been a concern of mine with them, and this act of stupidity confirms my already strong suspicions.

#716282 - 05/01/09 04:53 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Billy Darnell]  
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Brian Hazard Offline
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While on one level I can understand the frustration, I've been quite happy with my Jango experience to date, which I detail here:

http://www.passivepromotion.com/jango

The bottom line to me is that real people are listening to and commenting on my songs, choosing to become "fans," and in an admittedly small number of cases, actually buying my music.

Brian.

COLOR THEORY
electronic indie piano pop

Brian Hazard = Color Theory
colortheory@colortheory.com
http://www.colortheory.com


Brian.

COLOR THEORY
electronic indie piano pop

http://www.colortheory.com
http://www.passivepromotion.com
#716301 - 05/01/09 06:17 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Hazard]  
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Billy Darnell Offline
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Hi Brian,
I just checked out your site, I am not a great fan of electric music, but I enjoyed the sound clips. Very nice stuff. I just wanted you to know that so you don't think I am questioning your talent or your abilities.

Here's the issue I have with pay per play. From what I read at your site, you haven't really accomplished anything that anyone else hasn't without pay per play. In fact there are alternatives to pay per play that would increase your fan base much faster and more efficiently. A little more time consuming, but much better results and more rewarding in the end.

I think that the only people that will participate in this platform are those that lack the knowledge to get exposure any other way, or maybe deal in a niche genre that doesn't have great deal of public appeal. My problem with that is by participating we legitimize it, and that's a scarey thought.

Just my opinion mind you, but I am sticking to it.

Good luck with your music.




#716387 - 05/01/09 11:58 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Billy Darnell]  
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Brian Hazard Offline
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Hi Billy,

I absolutely respect your opinion, but I believe I've tried just about everything to promote my music over the past 15 years. I've sold maybe 6,000 albums, which isn't amazing, but better than most of my friends. My Passive Promotion blog is relatively young, but you can see that I've tried plenty of other things just in the past few months. I'll withhold final judgment until I've had a few more months of testing, but so far Jango seems to be quite effective. That said, I certainly don't credit it for any of my admittedly modest successes to date.

If you've got any suggestions, I'm happy to try them! If they work, I'll write about them. What do you think would increase my fan base more efficiently? Personally, I see no problem with paying to play. It's perfectly legitimate and relatively inexpensive promotion.

Brian Hazard
http://www.colortheory.com
http://www.passivepromotion.com


Brian.

COLOR THEORY
electronic indie piano pop

http://www.colortheory.com
http://www.passivepromotion.com
#716392 - 05/02/09 12:06 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Hazard]  
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Brian Hazard Offline
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Just thought I'd add, I've spent about $7,000 promoting to terrestrial radio over the years, with nothing to show for it. I can't point to a single sale, royalty payment, or even an e-mail from someone who heard it. I've been in regular rotation on over 40 commercial stations in Italy and France, and done my share of promotion to California college radio. Plus a handful of interviews. Nothing.


Brian.

COLOR THEORY
electronic indie piano pop

http://www.colortheory.com
http://www.passivepromotion.com
#716408 - 05/02/09 12:54 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Hazard]  
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Billy Darnell Offline
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Hi Brian,

Pretty hard to fight that feeling with all the accolades, and recognition, you really haven't gotten out of the bottom 3 so far huh?

You got great stuff, and your right, you are doing better than most folks, the unfortunate part of that is Electronica is a very narrow genre, not really what you hear in main stream radio a lot. Some groups have made it big in that arena, mostly because of their show quality and a good gimmick more so than the quality of what they do.

I am no expert by any means, and most of what I have had success with will probably not be real beneficial to you, because my genre is very much mainstream. In saying that I am going to offer my perspective.

I think you might be casting your fishing hook in the wrong waters. It may be your fishing for trout in a pond full of blue gills. You'll get plenty of nibbles , maybe even catch a few of those pesky blue gills with big mouths, but all in all it's a disappointing experience.

I would take that $30 your paying Jango, save it up for 10 months if you have to, and get involved with TAXI. What you do fits the film, TV, and commercial licensing industry's much better. Don't just join Taxi, but become an expert at how it functions. With your credentials coming in the door I would think you would have some degree of instant creditability.

Start learning about licensing and work that end of the business. I think you'll find the financial aspects, and the opportunities for recognition, a lot more rewarding.

Take it for what it's worth, that's just my opinion.

Good luck Brian and much continued success.

#716417 - 05/02/09 02:20 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Billy Darnell]  
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Brian Hazard Offline
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Thanks Billy!

I've been a Taxi member for 10 years. I've been to three Road Rallies and had 100+ forwards and no deals, but I keep on plugging away. I don't know that I'll get any more out of it unless I write specifically to the listings, which I'm not willing to do at this point. I'll continue to pursue licensing opportunities, but you spoke specifically about expanding my fan base more efficiently. I'd love to hear how you did it. Even if you don't think it will suit my genre, I can write about it at Passive Promotion.

I'm not sure what you meant about the "bottom 3," but I'm quite happy with where I'm at. I only brought up my radio promotion experience to point out that traditional radio promotion (as opposed to pay-for-play internet radio like Jango or Last.fm) can be far more expensive, with nothing to show for it. I'm not looking for superstardom, if such a thing exists anymore. I just want to continue to grow my listenership, one fan at a time. I'm actually rather comfortable right now, with enough fans to ensure that my albums are paid for, but not so many that I can't develop meaningful relationships with them.

Brian
http://www.colortheory.com
http://www.passivepromotion.com

#716422 - 05/02/09 02:49 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Billy Darnell]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Offline
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It seems clear to me that AP is one of 3 things:

1. Dangerous because he's clueless.

2. Dangerous because he'll only say these things if he can hide behind anonymity when he would never say them in the clear blue light of day and take responsibility for them.

3. Dangerous because he actually is already one of these scam artists (or wants to be one) and knows he has to pretend to be a third party to help legitimize the scam.

We don't let Street Teamers get away with that crap and frankly we've let AP get away with it too long already.

So because of that, it's time to say goodbye to ArtistPreneur. If he (or she.. who really knows) wants to come back and participate, it will require verification of who they are in real life. Otherwise, they are simply not to be trusted as an anonymous and unbiased source or opinion on matters so closely linked with scam artists.

Enough already.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#716425 - 05/02/09 02:58 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Hazard]  
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Billy Darnell Offline
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Well Brian,

I actually have a 4 prong approach that I employed that I feel really catapulted my music exposure.

I first of all used Paltalk as I talked about in my original post at the start of this thread. It helped me to learn where Dj's posted their play lists on line, so I could find out who the Dj's were in the markets I wanted to be most effective in, Let me take my music directly to the people, and introduced me to thousands of people from all over the world. Helped me to find radio stations that wanted my kind of music, just a number of things that made me that much more aware of today's market.

Secondly as I have already posted, I use a Compilation Cd to release music to the Dj's that have an interest in my genre, which happens to be country. The comp goes out to over 1400 DJ's world wide, and it costs me $75 to get on it, and i send one out every 3 or 4 months. The average comp from what I have seen is about $250, and they go out to a lot less people. Still that's a lot of exposure for a few dollars.

Third, between Paltalk, and my own research, I have built quite a list of DJ's that support my music. The research include everything from the Indie Bible ( which wasn't all that great ), to, finding radio stations in my genre at places like itunes, Live365, Shoutcast, and many other searches for independent radio stations world wide. When I found a station that fit me, I sent a letter of introduction, told them a little about who I was, listed some of my accomplishments, my web page, my MySpace, and asked if they would accept a submission of my music for consideration of air play. Most of them were very receptive.

Last but not least I posted my music on any free ( and some places the fee was pretty low but I wont be doing that in the future )website that had a country music category. last time I counted there were 50 or 60 of them.

I might add I read anything and everything that has to do with marketing music.

That's about it. I think your actually doing real well, and as I have stated before, you have to do a lot of little things consistently well, and it wont happen over night.

I believe your placement in the John Lennon Contest will open some doors of opportunity when it's all said and done.

It is really hard to layout a blue print in this day and age, that fits everyone all the time, but if your genre's country I can tell you this will take you pretty far down the road.

I don't think anyone is going to be able to find success soley in an online environment. I think the real money will be made playing gigs, and selling merchandise at those gigs. There's no substitute online for that.

Good luck Brian, I expect to hear your name again some where real soon.





#716431 - 05/02/09 03:40 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Offline
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Brian/Color Theory,

You stated that you paid for radio promotion and got nothing out of it. Yet that didn't teach you that paying for airplay directly isn't an even worse idea? Heck, you've even shown that actually having real airplay was not beneficial to you, so why pay or it?

You are a poster child for why it's stupid to pay for airplay. Pay for play will not result in airplay royalties. That would break the law. So you're not going to help that with pay for play either. And you actually have talent (the real reason for the success you've had) and even with that going for you, airplay and radio promotion didn't help you. Most of the folks who might be suckered into pay for play don't have talent to start with. They are especially desperate because legitimate radio, even in France, will NEVER play them. So it's critical that we dispel this notion that getting airplay by paying for it and not earning it through actual talent is a massive scam. They may do it anyway if they need an ego stroke and no one is doing that for them legitimately based on their talent, but at least we've done what we can to warn those smart enough to avoid it. But for you to do it is really troubling. That means that people with talent and generally good sense are still willing to throw money away.

Let's look at the basic economics of it. If buying airplay made good business sense, the cost of buying it would go up and up until you, as an individual couldn't afford it anymore. It's only affordable because it DOESN'T make business sense or is so unlikely to provide more than anecdotal benefit (i.e. you can't repeat it and thus can't be directly attribute it to the actual success). Scam artists use anecdotal evidence all the time to "prove" the success of what they are selling. (Watch late night TV for all sorts of nefarious companies using anecdotal evidence to sell their wares, always having to run a disclaimer in small print because those claims mean nothing to whether it works or not). But someone may come out and say "hey.. I got a record deal because I paid for airplay... blah blah blah.. " but it won't mean ANYTHING even if it were true. Because for it to really work, it would have to be repeatable.

Now, this is far different from a SERVICE. If someone offers a service, like radio promotion (something I am also against, though it's not always a scam) as long as they do the specific things they agree to do (contact X number of stations, send out X number of press releases to X number of media outlets etc.) and they make no promises of any results of that effort, that's above board. If they claim that because Billy Joe Bob got a record deal because they were heard on a station that they promote to, and so you are likely to as well if you hire them, that is dishonest. If that were true, everyone ever played on that station would have a record deal. It's all a coincidence.

People like our anonymous friend above are much like conspiracy theorists (and scam artists). They use tiny elements of truth to make a point while ignoring 99% of the facts that disprove their theory. Just because something occasionally may help someone, it doesn't remotely mean it will be of any use to you. And you can NEVER guarantee success. No one controls that completely.

Buying radio play fills the ego of the person getting played and the pockets of those scamming him.

Brian






Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#716432 - 05/02/09 04:24 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Brian Hazard Offline
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Great discussion!

Billy, thank you for describing your methods in detail! That really does sound like a formula for success, at least back when there was money to be made selling music. My pre-2000 formula wasn't too far from yours. I attribute most of my initial success to compilation CDs, back when there was a strong and supportive synthpop community. Unfortunately, that community has all but disappeared. I didn't have as much success at radio, but as you mentioned, I fall between the cracks of mainstream genres. I bet that formula could actually still work pretty well today in country, if the goal is building a fan mailing list rather than making money.

Brian, I wonder how much those arguments apply to Jango or Last.fm. By your definition, I'd argue that Jango is selling a service. They will play your song to x number of listeners of the bands you choose. That's it, and they don't pretend to offer anything beyond that. To call it a scam is completely unfair, in my opinion.

Instead of comparing Jango to terrestrial radio, let's compare it to Pandora. I know Pandora has helped me, because I've received at least a dozen e-mails from strangers telling me they heard my music there and asking how to buy my CDs. While they have different recommendation engines, Pandora and Jango are very much alike. They both play music based on user suggestions. If I had to pay a $100 fee for Pandora to analyze my music for the Music Genome Project, I'd do it. I'd understand if they had to charge a fee - it's a lot of work! But for now, it's free. For $100, Jango will play my song 5,000 times, arguably to people who want to hear it. I think it's reasonable to expect the same kind of listener response to my music that I get from Pandora. After all, the listeners don't know whether or not I paid for it. And Jango offers the extra benefit of allowing me to send out a daily bulletin to all my "fans" (144 so far - it's a start!), or message them individually.

As for internet radio being overrun by rich but talentless hacks, I don't see it happening. Both Jango and Last.fm allow you to ban the song. Jango can elect not to approve the song in the first place. In researching my blog post on the subject, I spent some time listening, and didn't hear any indie stuff that sounded worse than the major label stuff. If it's crap, the users will vote it down, and that will be the end of that.

I hope I'm not in the position where I need to defend payola historically, or even Jango specifically. I'm just saying that, looked at in isolation, Jango (and Last.fm, though it's more expensive) offer services that I believe will help expand my fan base. Even if I value my time at only $5/hour, it's cheap compared to most of the methods I've tried. Obviously it's not the only thing I'm doing, or I wouldn't have much to write about in my promotion blog. smile

Brian
http://www.colortheory.com
http://www.passivepromotion.com


Brian.

COLOR THEORY
electronic indie piano pop

http://www.colortheory.com
http://www.passivepromotion.com
#716434 - 05/02/09 04:30 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Hazard]  
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I should also mention that both Jango and Last.fm will continue to recommend and play my songs in perpetuity even if I never drop another dime on them (and I'm not sure I will).


Brian.

COLOR THEORY
electronic indie piano pop

http://www.colortheory.com
http://www.passivepromotion.com
#716435 - 05/02/09 04:45 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Hazard]  
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Your welcome Brian/color theory,

I don't look at it as an opportunity to build a Fan mailing list, I am more concerned with getting my music out there to be heard by the masses.

I have always believed in putting it out there and letting the public judge it's value or it's worth. I have learned that it doesn't matter what I think about the song, it's what the listener finds in it that's important. As long as they keep listening, I guess I'll keep writing it.

So far 4 out of the 5 songs I have released to radio through comps have made the ECMA top 100 chart, so I guess someone is listening, and enjoying.

Who knows , I keep writing, they keep listening, and just maybe, one day it all comes together. The stars align just perfectly, a moment of magic flows from a pen, and I write a great song that finally puts me over the top. Even if it never happens, I love what I am doing, and knowing that it is appreciated, even by a select few. I'm a songwriter , and a singer, it's who I am, and what I do. Everything else is just a fringe benefit.


#716445 - 05/02/09 05:43 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Billy Darnell]  
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niteshift Offline
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Hey All...

Interesting thread. I've read Brain Whitney's comments, and also Brian's( Color Theory ) comments, and what distrubs me the most is CT's statement....

"For $100, Jango will play my song 5,000 times, arguably to people who want to hear it."

To me, it's simply flawed logic. I understand CT, that you have spent 7k on radio promotion, and if it's through a legit PR firm, that's quite acceptable. PR firms exist for that reason.

To pay a "station" anything to play your music is self defeating. It simply means that your material is not worthy of being picked up, played, and hence earning advertising reveue for the station. Music is aired because people like to listen to it. Those people listen to the advertising, and buy the product.

If you simply pay to have it aired, that means any old piece of rubbish can be aired, and listeners simply don't like that. There's no filtering mechanism. They'll switch off. But does the station care ? Heck no, they've got YOUR money.

If you'd care to send me $30, I'll play your song on my internet station. Better than that, I'll do it for free if it's any good. Most of the songs there get around 1000 - 1500 plays a month. Why ? Because people simply want to listen to them.

http://iacmusic.com/stations/KIAC4911.htm

Paying for internet streams ? It's absolute nonsence.

cheers, niteshift


#716446 - 05/02/09 05:51 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Hazard]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Offline
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Brian,

Thanks for the info. It's clear that for there to be any potential value for this this, they have to filter. If they don't filter, then it collapses, can we agree on that obvious point? (I hope so, because I'd rather discuss the more interesting part, which is what happens if they DO filter for talent and keep that filter very high). If you don't agree they need to filter, then we can go back and visit that.

So, you've gotten 144 fans from your 100 dollar investment. On face value that sounds pretty good. So let's learn what calling them "fans" actually means. (And I have no idea of what your answers will be).

1. Do you have their names and direct contacts?

2. Do you know where they are located?

3. Have they actual purchased anything?

4. Have they responded to your notes to them?

The answer may be yes to all those questions. If that is true, then I'd say they are actual fans. That certainly suggests that at .70 cents a piece, that's a good return on your investment. If the answer is no, then they aren't fans so what did you actually get? Would you agree that if they never buy anything and they never come to your show (for example because you don't live near them or you're an artist who doesn't even do live shows) that they actually are of no real use to you in your career at this time? And if they are not easily transported outside of your online interface and onto your personal mailing list, they have no value at all. In fact, you couldn't even prove that they existed as real people right? For that matter, they might just be a marketing ploy to get you to spend more money. But that's all speculation, both good and bad. I'll wait for your factual answers.

Let's assume a best case scenario.. lets assume that they are all 100% real people, they all live in your exact town (because fans in other towns only really help you if they buy something so let's make it perfect for arguments sake) and they all respond to your emails and interact with you. If all that is true, then let's examine what you got in terms of income. If they all bought one song from you (the one they heard) that would equate (assuming they bought it on the open market and not fron Jango) to roughly 60 cents a head if you use CD Baby's digital distrubtion at 99 cents a track. So, drum roll please, after a 100% sales penetration... (i.e. the best case scenario) you have made a whopping... negative -10 bucks.

You could afford to do that for a long time before you lost all your money. But it would be hard to get ahead and make a good return on your investment right?

I guess if you converted 100% of them to full CD sales, you could even make a profit. So I am excited to hear how many CD's or single songs you sold to those 144 fans.

If, as I fear in the other extreme, that you sold nothing, it's unlikely you can afford that much success. And that's also assuming that you continue to get 144 fans per 100 dollars you spend. If you don't get that much, or if those fans don't interact with you, you don't get their email addresses that you can take off site and add to your own mailing list or worst of all, you can't really prove they are real, then you can see where what seems fantastic (wow.. 144 new fans!!!! at only 70 cents a piece) quickly becomes a nightmare.

So going back to the best case scenario, how many fans can you afford to buy? And if they aren't buying at least 1 track 100% of the time, how long can you afford to lose money? Remember, when you spend money, you should be getting something tangible in return.

So let's look at your point that it is a service provided. By strict definition, as long as it's not a scam, then it's a service. But is it a useful service? You can hire a pool cleaning service to come out once a week, but if you don't have a pool, or you don't use the pool you have, or there's no water in it (perhaps the best comparison) there's not much for them to do.

You're a talented guy. If you were any less talented, you'd agree that people would be less likely to want to be fans right, let alone buy something? If you agree, and we've shown how even at 100% sales penetration you lose money, imagine how much worse it would be for others?

But let's say there are far more talented people. If that is the case, as they sign up, your music won't be as good. So your investment will suffer as time moves forward. As the economy of scale is no longer in your benefit (i.e. you can no longer pay this money to have little competition to this huge fan base), it will be harder to pay off the investment. (and remember, at 100% sales, even you aren't doing that). As more talent comes around and spots on the playlist become scarce, supply and demand issues kick. There's only so many spots they can fit in of stuff that isn't what the fans want before they get annoyed and go look for something that more often plays exactly what they want. So if spots become scarce, the cost will have to go up for all those artists who want to buy them. Then things get really tough to afford or to get a return on the investment even if you CAN afford it.

Starting to get an idea about all this?

But artists are starry eyed dreamers. Many are willing to pay money out for their music to get exposed. They see it as an overpriced lottery ticket.

Now.. we've mostly dealt with best case scenarios. If it's anything less than that (and I suspect it is) it's a really bad idea. In a perfect case scenario, it's not a good deal.

And I didn't even get into the fact that you will never make royalties and I would still like to hear from any attorney who can explain how PRO royalties can be waived to make that happen at all. Sound Exchange may be a good source. If 5% of that royalty goes to musicians unions and Jango or Last FM has to pay that Royalty, how can anyone waive them across the board? And if they don't waive them, how can that airplay be counted as legit since it was bought and paid for? And where are the songwriters in this? If you don't control 100% of the rights to the songs (publishing and writers shares) how can you even participate in a pay to play scenario? Seems like a legal battle waiting to happen. But that's all in addition to and separate of what we're talking about.

I have an idea that might be better than this, but I am not going to give it to them. But I know smart people to give it to that might be able to incorporate it into something they are working on.

I understand why Last FM, Jango and others would want to figure out how to make money. I just wish they'd figure out a way to stop making the creators of the product pay them to use it to make their own profits. Doesn't anyone else have a fundamental moral problem with that aside from the business problems it presents?

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#716627 - 05/02/09 10:45 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Brian Hazard Offline
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Sorry I couldn't get to this earlier. Family stuff, Little League, etc.

First off, if you could take a couple minutes to read my short article on Jango, I think you'd gain a better understanding of how it works and how artists stand to benefit:

http://www.passivepromotion.com/jango

You may want to compare/contrast with my experience at Last.fm, but it's not essential for the purposes of our discussion:

http://www.passivepromotion.com/powerplay

Originally Posted by niteshift
To pay a "station" anything to play your music is self defeating. It simply means that your material is not worthy of being picked up, played, and hence earning advertising reveue for the station.

That model simply doesn't apply to Jango. As I explained earlier, I've had plenty of radio "success." Over 40 commercial stations in Italy and France were spinning my stuff. We chose to focus on Europe because they were more receptive to electronic pop, not because they were easy to impress. I've also promoted in the US, once with a pro and once myself. I gave up on radio promotion in 2001 after seeing nothing come of making the CMJ Top 20. So again - been there, done that. Jango is cheaper and more effective.

I agree with both of you on the value of filters. Jango has three stages of filtering. First, every song needs to be approved by the staff. The handful of indie tracks I heard in my few hours of listening were all good to great. Secondly, each song is played only to listeners who like similar bands. Depeche Mode fans might hear my song, but Metallica fans won't. Finally, a listener can choose to ban the song. If they don't like it, they'll never hear it again.

Brian, I appreciate what you're trying to do in calculating my return on investment, but I've already done that in my article, citing response rates and my take on what it means for a listener to become a "fan." I don't disagree with any of your hypotheticals, but we're both speculating wildly. I doubt I'm making back 50% of my investment in short-term sales, but I'm trying to position myself for a future in which everyone can stream anything, anywhere (as many already do with Spotify). My goal is more listeners, regardless of whether they currently buy, stream, or steal.

Pandora has done a lot for me over the past few years, and other than it being free, they pretty much do the same thing. In my experience, Pandora is worth paying for, so why shouldn't Jango be?

The bulk of the objections I'm hearing in this thread concern the morality of "payola" on traditional radio. To me, Jango is completely different, but in order to draw the distinction, allow me to ask:

1.If Pandora started charging an analysis fee, would that make it a scam?

2.If I make back 100% of my investment in Jango over time, does that exonerate the service?

3.If Jango ran a special offering 1,000 free plays, no strings attached, would participating pose a moral dilemma for you?

p.s. As for royalties, I expect to see some from Sound Exchange, but nothing to write home about. They currently owe me a whopping $41. Maybe I won't receive royalties for the paid plays, but certainly the unpaid ones qualify.


Brian.

COLOR THEORY
electronic indie piano pop

http://www.colortheory.com
http://www.passivepromotion.com
#716637 - 05/03/09 12:10 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Hazard]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Offline
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Indianapolis, IN USA
Pandora is great because it does everything with the sole motivation of providing the very best listening experience possible for their listeners. Jango is not great because it's motivation is to get you to spend more money buying more plays (and everyone else). It's not an editorial decision on what gets played, it's a payola decision. If you want to know what Payola eventually does for the listener in the long run, just listen to mainstream radio. It's not a good experience and because of that they are shrinking in numbers faster than they should be. The competition alone with other things like the internet would have caused a decrease, but their playlists and record of playing crap that was paid for both legally and illegally through a myriad of business decisions has ruined the listening experience. So why do you want to participate in a system that is doing exactly the same thing. It's a classic case of not learning from history and expecting a different result from the same action.

I haven't read your article not because I am not interest but because there's not enough time in the day right now. In addition, I want to have a discussion here so that folks who are visiting can get the answers without having to go back and forth to an outside site.

So what are the answers to my 4 simple questions? It seems you partially answered my question about sales versus cost. So you spent 100 dollars and you sold enough music to make back 50 dollars in profit? That's actually surprisingly good. Those 144 fans bought what, 75 music tracks? Can you be more specific?

I think based on your answers so far have a big case of wishful thinking. I agree 100% that if you subtract the payola portion of the scenario, the rest of it is a good thing. For me, Pandora is an honest company that deserves to thrive. Jango does not. And I don't think it can sustain itself because it's completely counter to what makes internet radio good.. actual decisions makers playing stuff they love, not stuff they are paid to play. It sucked on terrestrial radio and it will suck on internet radio. You WANT it to be successful so you hear it that way. But as this moves forward, people will migrate to things that honestly play the best music regardless of whether someone can pay for it or not. After all, if what they are doing was fair, why aren't they charging all the artists and not just the indies? The answer is if they only played what was paid for, there wouldn't be enough music to broadcast and their scheme would be instantly exposed for the crap that it is. If you play proven hits one after another and sneak in some paid for stuff, you might sustain it for a while. But when they add more content it will water down the good stuff and people will move on.

So far you haven't given me any reason to change my mind or position that it's a scam. It may be 100% legal (though I still want an attorney to explain how they escape legal problems with Sound Exchange etc.). I haven't had time to all Soundexchange to get an answer. I will try to get to that late next week.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#716682 - 05/03/09 04:13 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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Brian Hazard Offline
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Don't forget that Pandora sells advertising. Both Jango and Pandora are for-profit companies. They exist to make money, and I see nothing wrong with that (for the record, Jango was hugely popular before they added the airplay component). I'm not as much interested in their motivation as I am in how they can help independent artists expand their fanbases.

Yes, payola is bad - deceptive, immoral, and illegal. Can we talk about Jango now? wink The term simply doesn't apply. Here are a few ways that it differs from traditional radio, both terrestrial and internet:

1. Jango is not regulated by the FCC, and is not breaking any laws that I'm aware of.

2. Jango makes it very clear when an indie is being played. The site opens a pop-up asking for feedback in the form of a rating, comment, or becoming a fan.

3. Jango has a "buy" button built into the player, linking to iTunes and Amazon.

4. Jango is personalized radio. There are no music directors. Users pick what artists they want to hear, and Jango will play those artists, along with similar artists, both major and indie. The vast majority of plays are majors.

5. Jango has multiple filters to ensure the site won't be overrun by crap, which is in nobody's interest. Listeners would leave the site and artists would stop paying for plays.

6. Jango has a social networking component, with profiles, comments, friends, and custom stations.

7. Jango facilitates direct communication with listeners, through comments, messages, and bulletins. I've got hundreds of comments, obviously from "real" people, on my profile: http://www.jango.com/music/Color+Theory

8. Jango offers demographic and fan overlap reports to help artists focus their targeting.

Could we at least entertain the notion that they genuinely want to help indies succeed? smile

This conversation reminds me of the many times I've defended Taxi. Some people assume they are sharks because they take money from musicians, who often have nothing to show for it. Google "taxi scam" and you'll see what I mean. We both know that Taxi is legit, but if I answer your four questions in reference to their service, one might be led to believe otherwise. I don't get the names and direct contacts of the people they play my music to, I don't know where those people are located, they've never "purchased anything" (in this case, inked a deal), and since I don't have their contact info, I can't write any notes for them to respond to. I've never made a penny from their service, after paying $3,000 or so over ten years. Still, I believe they've fulfilled their end of the bargain.

As for Jango, I get a listener's username, age, sex, and location, and can contact them directly through my control panel, both individually and collectively. One listener bought a CD and t-shirt from me directly, but I'd guess that most sales are from iTunes and Amazon via the "buy" button. My Amazon sales are way up for the month, but I've got a lot of balls in the air right now, so I can't necessarily attribute that to Jango. I won't know about digital sales until they're reported to CD Baby. Jango only recently added the bulletin feature, but I've received eight messages in response. So again, lots of speculation involved, but my answers to your questions are essentially yes, yes, yes, and yes. In my humble opinion, those aren't the questions we should ask in trying to position ourselves for an all-you-can-eat streaming future.

A label owner friend of mine was targeting electronic and dance bands, but discovered through the fan overlap report that Britney Spears fans loved the band he was promoting. He changed his targets and saw a huge spike in Amazon sales, which he attributes to Jango. The comments on my blog post show that we're not the only ones encouraged by the results so far.


Brian.

COLOR THEORY
electronic indie piano pop

http://www.colortheory.com
http://www.passivepromotion.com
#717883 - 05/06/09 08:00 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Hazard]  
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Brian Hazard Offline
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I plan to write on this topic for my next Passive Promotion article. Since my last post, I've gleaned more information about how Jango works, and I'm even more confident in their quality controls. For example, new users will only hear one airplay song PER DAY max. At most, regular users will hear one airplay song out of every 20 played, unless they specifically opt in for more.

Any further thoughts on the topic? I want to be sure to explore it from all angles. Brian, any word from SoundExchange?


Brian.

COLOR THEORY
electronic indie piano pop

http://www.colortheory.com
http://www.passivepromotion.com
#717902 - 05/06/09 08:57 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Hazard]  
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Brian Austin Whitney Offline
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1. Jango is not regulated by the FCC, and is not breaking any laws that I'm aware of.
------------------------
That doesn't REMOTELY improve anything. Just because it isn't illegal, then it's okay? Scamming people for all sorts of things are completely legal. It's still a scam.
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2. Jango makes it very clear when an indie is being played. The site opens a pop-up asking for feedback in the form of a rating, comment, or becoming a fan.
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Does it say "we are ONLY playing this song because this artist PAID us to play it?" Because if they don't, they are being dishonest. Do they have a pop up window for ALL songs that are played, or only the paid for ones?
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3. Jango has a "buy" button built into the player, linking to iTunes and Amazon.
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So what? How does that defend pay to play? It's irrelevent. Many internet radio broadcasters have buy buttons. Big deal. A better and more fair system would be to share in the sales revenue, rather than charging to play it.
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4. Jango is personalized radio. There are no music directors. Users pick what artists they want to hear, and Jango will play those artists, along with similar artists, both major and indie. The vast majority of plays are majors.
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Again Brian, you haven't given anything that suggests that pay for play is good. Do they tell the listeners that "since you like these artists, here's some artists who PAID us to play them to you rather than us just choosing new music to introduce to you because we thought you might like it?" It's a dishonest and immoral thing. It's exactly what is evil about Payola.
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5. Jango has multiple filters to ensure the site won't be overrun by crap, which is in nobody's interest. Listeners would leave the site and artists would stop paying for plays.
------------------------
But it is ALSO filtering on a higher level. It's filtering out all great music that won't pay them for airplay completely unless it's already famous or made by a famous musician. That is what is wrong with terrestrial radio. They have a filter to not play crap too (I made that point myself earlier). They also have a filter to not play what isn't bought and paid for by years of legal and illegal relationships and agreements.
------------------------
6. Jango has a social networking component, with profiles, comments, friends, and custom stations.
------------------------
That's a great thing. But people offer those benefits without charging them for airplay. Why not use a free site and support them instead?
------------------------
7. Jango facilitates direct communication with listeners, through comments, messages, and bulletins. I've got hundreds of comments, obviously from "real" people, on my profile: http://www.jango.com/music/Color+Theory
------------------------
But do you get their contact info and can you add them to your off site personal fan list to do with what you want? You still haven't answered that question?
------------------------
8. Jango offers demographic and fan overlap reports to help artists focus their targeting.
------------------------
But do you get their names and contact info so you can use that to book tours or just to continue to develop your relationship with them outside of Jango?
------------------------

I appreciate you continuing to share your info and experience. People can read your very positive view point and my very skeptical one. I am not suggesting that everything they do outside of the pay to play scheme is bad. I am saying by making it a pay to play scheme, they ruin the rest. If you stop paying those fees, do you still get all these benefits and will you still keep getting airplay? After all, you're GOOD ENOUGH to deserve honest airplay. If the answer is anything other than a resounding YES, then it's just about making money, not providing great music for their broadcasts based on merit. And if it isn't based purely on merit, then it can never be as good as it SHOULD be. When everyone is struggling to get people to listen to even the very BEST music on any form of radio, why do you think this is a sustaining thing? If you know going in that the system will NOT play what is best, but only what is paid for that has met some minimal quality bar, it can't compete. And you're PAYING someone to do something immoral. They want to use your music to make money. AND they want you to PAY them to use it to make money. Hmmmm. They are relegated you saying you, Brian Hazard, are not talented enough to be on our stations unless you pay us. (Because remember, they play all sorts of other music and obviously don't charge those folks).

I find it insulting and offensive. And I find it to be bad business for everyone, including Jango, because they will learn that grassroots artists like yourself are not endless cash machines. You can't sustain paying them to play their music and even if YOU could, most can't.

Shouldn't we be supporting ideas that don't relegate folks like you to the "not good enough to deserve honest airplay, but good enough to charge money to and force you on our listeners whether they want to hear YOU or not" pile of dung in the basement. This is, as I said last year in the newsletter, the moral equivelent of saying "get to the back of the bus." Except in this case, those at the front aren't paying for the ticket, but you are.

It's morally wrong and over the long term, it's unsustainable. If they were equally partnering with you so that they ONLY made a dime when you made a dollar, then their model at least would have integrity. And if they believe in what they were doing, they would NEVER charge you upfront for playing you. They could partner with you in all sorts of ways. That alone would force them to make the RIGHT decision because if they ever played the wrong thing, they wouldn't make any money from it. So they would HAVE to make sure they only played the best.

This isn't anything you're doing wrong. You're a best case scenario. If it doesn't work FABULOUSLY for you, then it's a complete waste of money for anyone with less talent. I just hate to see anyone, talented or untalented, treated this way and sold on this concept that you can't succeed based on the merit of your work unless you pay someone off. That is a big part of what ruined the industry and this is just a continuation of that bad idea.

Brian

PS: Your comment that "at most they will only play 1 pay per play song out of 20" just proves my point even more. If this was so great for the listener and the quality was so high, you would never dream of even having such a limitation. If this music deserves to be played right along side the established music, you wouldn't need to limit it right?


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#718528 - 05/08/09 03:17 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 66
Brian Hazard Offline
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Brian Hazard  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 66
I'm in the process of putting together my follow-up article, and plan to post it and then reply to your specific questions later today. As part of the article, I'm trying to summarize the primary argument against pay-for-play. What do you think of this?

Airplay should be based on merit alone. If an artist's work is good enough, it should be played for free. If it isn't, it shouldn't be played no matter how much money is thrown behind it. By legitimizing pay-for-play, we devalue art and ruin the listening experience.


Brian.

COLOR THEORY
electronic indie piano pop

http://www.colortheory.com
http://www.passivepromotion.com
#718574 - 05/08/09 06:49 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Hazard]  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,182
Brian Austin Whitney Offline
Brian Austin Whitney  Offline


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Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,182
Indianapolis, IN USA
Legitimizing the process of pay for play also sets up a haven for scam artists and empowers the multinational corporations to continue a process that has shut out all but their own signed artists. Why support that philosophy which has created the mess we're in today?


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#718597 - 05/08/09 08:03 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 66
Brian Hazard Offline
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Brian Hazard  Offline
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Posts: 66
After five hours of writing, I finally posted the article. I tried to touch on most of your concerns, specifically - Is Jango a scam, payola, or immoral? Is it effective?

http://www.passivepromotion.com

I understand that you want to limit the discussion to this forum as much as possible, and I respect that. I promise to get back here ASAP and reply to your points directly. At the same time, understand that this discussion is taking place across multiple forums, and there aren't enough hours in the day for me to reply in detail to every post.


Brian.

COLOR THEORY
electronic indie piano pop

http://www.colortheory.com
http://www.passivepromotion.com
#718720 - 05/09/09 04:26 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Hazard]  
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 1,762
maccharles Online content
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maccharles  Online Content
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Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 1,762
Best goddamned thread I have stumbled across yet.

Great to see some knowledgeable people here,the dreamers seem to rule on the net and that has always kept me semi-wallflower so as not to start undue ripples in the respective ponds.



Listening to all,
Mac.

#718754 - 05/09/09 08:27 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: maccharles]  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,182
Brian Austin Whitney Offline
Brian Austin Whitney  Offline


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Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,182
Indianapolis, IN USA
Brian,

You could just post the text of your article here. By continuing the discussion here, you'll get a lot more site traffic in the long run if that is your worry.

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#718958 - 05/09/09 09:09 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 66
Brian Hazard Offline
Serious Contributor
Brian Hazard  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 66
Thanks Brian!

That's not my worry at all. It seems like most blogs get copied all over the net anyway, and I submitted it to Music Think Tank myself. My concerns were 1) not knowing if it was cool, and 2) losing all the links and images.

Let me see what I can do... hopefully it will follow shortly.


Brian.

COLOR THEORY
electronic indie piano pop

http://www.colortheory.com
http://www.passivepromotion.com
#718961 - 05/09/09 09:15 PM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Hazard]  
Joined: Nov 2008
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Brian Hazard Offline
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Brian Hazard  Offline
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Posts: 66
OK, here we go!

B.


Is Jango payola?

My last article on Jango sparked spirited discussions on the Just Plain Folks forums, the CD Baby forums, and Music Think Tank. Words like "scam" and "payola" are recklessly thrown about. We need to dispel these unfair and inflammatory accusations before we can have an honest debate.

Is it a scam?

Absolutely not! It is a service that delivers everything it promises. Jango sells airplay, not results. To put it in perspective, I've spent $4,000 on Taxi since becoming a member in 1997. I've had over 100 forwards, but no deals. I've spent $7,000 on traditional radio promotion, with literally nothing to show for it. That doesn't mean that Taxi and traditional radio promotion are scams. They just haven't been effective (YMMV).

Is it payola?

Traditionally speaking, payola is the illegal payment for over-the-air broadcast of songs as regular airplay. The term simply doesn't apply. Jango is not regulated by the FCC, and is not breaking any laws.

In a more general sense, the word has come to refer to any secret payment made to cast a product in a positive light. That's not the case either. Paid plays are distinct from regular plays. The site opens a pop-up asking for feedback in the form of a rating, comment, or becoming a fan. There's an ad for the Jango Airplay program right in the header!

Is it immoral?

No, because no deception is taking place. The system is transparent. Artists pay for advertisement, the same way traditional advertisers buy slots on TV and traditional radio.

Now that that's out of the way, let's address the more compelling argument, which goes something like this:

Airplay should be based on merit alone. If an artist's work is good enough, it should be played for free. If it isn't, it shouldn't be played no matter how much money is thrown behind it. By legitimizing pay-for-play, we devalue art and ruin the listening experience.

First off, my music does get played for free. When a listener visits the site, they're asked to "enter any artist and click play." If they enter "Color Theory," they'll hear my music, and I won't have to pay for it. The airplay program allows me to buy extra plays, so that if they enter "Depeche Mode," they may still end up hearing my music.

Some argue that Jango should simply accept submissions and play the best of what they receive. Before the airplay program started, they did (I sent them my latest, but never heard anything back). The problem is that screening the material costs the company money, which results in more interruptive traditional ads. Assuming that listeners would rather hear quality indie songs than traditional ads, the airplay program provides a better listening experience.

Quality control is key. All songs must be approved by the staff before entering paid rotation. If a song gets more negative than positive ratings, it gets "retired" (and the unused plays refunded). New users will only hear one airplay song per day max. Regular users will hear up to one airplay song per hour on average, unless they opt in for more.

Is it effective?

For many, this is the only question worth asking. Here are my stats at a little over $200 into my $300 campaign:

11785 plays (10464 paid)
1264 likes
176 fans
684 views

I'm getting a good number of unpaid plays (40-80 per day), which will continue after my campaign ends. The numbers look good, but how do they translate into measurable results like sales and mailing list signups? The honest answer is, I don't know.

One listener bought a CD and t-shirt from me directly, but most sales probably go through iTunes and Amazon via the "buy" button built into the player. My Amazon sales are up, but I've got a lot of balls in the air right now, so I can't necessarily attribute that to Jango. I won't know about digital sales until they're reported to CD Baby.

A label owner friend of mine was targeting electronic and dance bands, but discovered through Jango's fan overlap report that Britney Spears fans love the band he's promoting. He changed his targets and saw a huge spike in Amazon sales. So at least there are some anecdotal success stories.

As for mailing list signups, I can't trace any to Jango. While I can message my fans through the site, both individually and collectively, I can't send them an actual e-mail. As an experiment, I sent out a bulletin entitled "does anyone read these bulletins?" to 170 fans, requesting a simple acknowledgment. Three people responded.

Obviously Jango can't afford to litter the site with MySpace-style band ads, or force their listeners to respond to messages. They need to maintain a compelling listening experience with as few interruptions and distractions as possible. Still, a few unintrusive tweaks would go a long way towards helping artists measure the results of their paid campaigns:

1. Track clickthroughs and open rates. How many people clicked the "buy" button as my song played? How many people actually read my bulletin? At least I'd know whether or not listeners were considering buying my music.

2. Allow direct communication with fans by e-mail. When a listener chooses to become a fan, present them with the option to "allow this artist to communicate with me directly." Let listeners opt out sitewide, and they won't see the checkbox again. Deliver our messages and bulletins through e-mail (keeping the address hidden for privacy reasons), or send an e-mail notification. At the very least, e-mail a weekly iLike-style digest of artist bulletins. One way or the other, just give me a reliable way to communicate with my fans.

3. Place a prominent opt-in link on my profile. Give listeners more than one chance to decide. If they already agreed to direct communications, the option to opt out should be presented instead.

I'll continue to report back with my results over time. If you are considering trying Jango Airplay, please use my affiliate link. Any money earned will be used to buy more plays for my songs.

http://airplay.jango.com/?source=colortheory

[by the way, you wouldn't know this unless you read my previous article, but Jango gave me an affiliate link AFTER reading my initial post]


Brian.

COLOR THEORY
electronic indie piano pop

http://www.colortheory.com
http://www.passivepromotion.com
#718994 - 05/10/09 12:09 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Hazard]  
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,182
Brian Austin Whitney Offline
Brian Austin Whitney  Offline


Top 10 Poster

Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 18,182
Indianapolis, IN USA
Brian,

Congrats. Now you're an official street teamer promoting Jango. And frankly, they should be paying YOU serious money for promoting them. You're the first passionate supporter of their site I have encountered. But as with all street teamers, we need to read your messages knowing that you are officially "affiliated" with them. I appreciate your candid acknowledgement of that.

For the record, though you've made an argument above about Payola, Scams and Immorality, it's simply an opinion by an affiliate of that company. It's not a fact nor is it the end of the discussion. It's only an opinion. I still believe it's immoral and a scam. I don't believe it is illegal, so it doesn't fit the legal definition of Payola. But in my opinion it still fits the intellectual concept. If not for you paying them, they wouldn't be playing you. You acknowledged that you had sent them your CD before all of this nonsense and they had declined to play it. That PROVES the fact that it's Payola one inch before it crosses the line into illegality. Pay to Play is basically the legal name for Payola which is illegal.

So let's go to the questions I asked you above.

1. Do you have their names and direct contacts?

Finally we have the answer. NO! So how do you know that you have 170 fans? And are they really fans if you don't see them in person or have contact with them? No. They are phantoms in the system. Nothing more. Even if they are real users, it doesn't matter. They have no actual value to you for your investment beyond making you "feel" good like having bogus MySpace friends who do nothing for you.

2. Do you know where they are located?

The answer is NO! So that can't help you with touring like a real fan base would. It can't help you target marketing efforts or terrestrial radio strategies. Again, they are phantoms.

3. Have they actually purchased anything?

One CD and a T-Shirt. At least you're not batting .000 So what was your profit margin on these items? 20 dollars?

4. Have they responded to your notes to them?

3 of them. Out of 170. Not bad for a random ad campaign via the net actually. That's nearly 2%. So do you now have them on your outside mailing list?


So you've turned $200 dollars into 3 fans and $20 dollars in profit roughly (you can correct that dollar total.. I don't know how much you're making on CD's and T-Shirts).

Jango could have simply bought a CD and T-Shirt from you and kept the other 170 dollars and the result would have been the same right? Great deal for them.

For all your glowing enthusiasm you've actually done a pretty good job demonstrating why it's an unsustainable process. How long can you afford to turn $200 dollars into $20 dollars? If you pay me $200 dollars, I will have 4 people send you an email and buy a CD and T-Shirt from you. And I will promise to keep doing that as long as you want to pay me $200 dollars. Sound like a good deal? That's 1 more fan and you'll have their REAL email address. Yee ha!

Seriously, I have a great deal of respect for you as an artist Brian and also as a stand up guy willing to supply facts and not shy away from the truth of it all. That says a lot about you across the board. But it actually makes my point even further. You're a hard working and talented musician out there engaged in your career trying to make something happen. And even with your talent this is already proving not to work. That means that anyone slightly LESS talented is going to fail at an even higher rate. Or, someone equally or slightly MORE talented, but in an even more mainstream genre than yours will still likely produce LESS results than you.

To be fair, all of the above is anecdotal. That means it could be better or worse than your numbers. But I suspect one reason they made you an "affiliate" is that you're not a "worst case" scenario. That would be dumb right? So it certainly suggests that your experience paints them in at least a positive light. And I suggest that what you have experienced isn't good enough. Not at all.

Your suggestions would make it a little better. Some of them have come from our discussions and I suspect they are reading this one too. But they are playing music they previously rejected as not good enough ONLY because you are paying them to (though I suspect after all your vocal support, if they were smart, they'd be playing you all the time to try and push as much benefit to you as possible, so future reports from you may be a bit skewed going forward with your new role as spokesperson for them). In the end, what more does anyone need to know?

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@aol.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney


#718998 - 05/10/09 12:41 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 5,320
niteshift Offline
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niteshift  Offline
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Posts: 5,320
Sydney, Australia
I just don't get it. You're getting 40 - 80 unpaid plays a day, so that's 60 people on average who want to listen to your music. I've just checked my IAC stats, and ten days into the month, without promotion of any kind, the play count is 650. Add to that, plays from Ourstage, and soundclick, and it would probably add to around 1,000. So lets say, 3000 for the month. Very low figures, but then again, I haven't been promotiong anything.

If I was with Jango, this would have COST me $80. Instead I'll probably MAKE $3 - $5 from streaming plays.

So, I'm kinda thinking that the business model is only beneficial to one party. And that's Jango. The whole concept is just crazy.

cheers, niteshift


#719038 - 05/10/09 02:49 AM Re: Legitimizing Pay-for-Play [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 66
Brian Hazard Offline
Serious Contributor
Brian Hazard  Offline
Serious Contributor

Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 66
I see you're not yet convinced! wink

Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
Now you're an official street teamer promoting Jango.

Not really. Like I said, they gave me an affiliate link AFTER writing the article, so I figured I might as well use it and recycle the money back into the program, to provide more data for my readers.

Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
You acknowledged that you had sent them your CD before all of this nonsense and they had declined to play it.

No, I said I never heard back. Maybe they played it, maybe they didn't. Same thing with Pandora. I didn't know until someone e-mailed me telling me they heard my song.

Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
Finally we have the answer. NO! So how do you know that you have 170 fans? And are they really fans if you don't see them in person or have contact with them?

I don't mind repeating myself, but I don't want anyone to infer that I was withholding information. I explained all of that in the first article, and in my response above (post #716627).

Will you read my first article if I copy and paste it here? I think it would help people understand the basic mechanics of the site.

Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
Even if they are real users, it doesn't matter. They have no actual value to you for your investment beyond making you "feel" good like having bogus MySpace friends who do nothing for you.

They are people who heard at least one of my songs and clicked a button to become a "fan." No more, no less.

Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
2. Do you know where they are located? The answer is NO!

That's incorrect. The answer is yes. As I explained above (post# 716682), I can see their age, sex, and location on their profile. I don't play live anyway, as we already discussed on another thread.

Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
3 of them. Out of 170. Not bad for a random ad campaign via the net actually.

Their communication tools border on useless. I've probably received 20 messages total from fans since I've been on the site.

Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
Jango could have simply bought a CD and T-Shirt from you and kept the other 170 dollars and the result would have been the same right?

I spent half of that last article explaining why it's impossible to calculate the effectiveness of my campaign, and yet you go ahead and do it anyway, in the most deliberately pessimistic manner possible. I know you're not trying to be deceptive, but it's at least unfair.

April sales were $883 and March sales were $900, up from $481 in February. All sales were online. I started at Jango on March 10. At the end of April, I was less than $200 into my Jango campaign. Looking at it in the most deliberately optimistic way possible, I paid Jango less than $100 per month in March and April, and took in $400 more per month in sales.

Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
Seriously, I have a great deal of respect for you as an artist Brian and also as a stand up guy willing to supply facts and not shy away from the truth of it all. That says a lot about you across the board. But it actually makes my point even further. You're a hard working and talented musician out there engaged in your career trying to make something happen. And even with your talent this is already proving not to work. That means that anyone slightly LESS talented is going to fail at an even higher rate. Or, someone equally or slightly MORE talented, but in an even more mainstream genre than yours will still likely produce LESS results than you.

Very kind of you to say. I agree that I'm putting a lot into this, and would expect better results than someone who just uploads a song, slaps down some cash, and moves on.

Originally Posted by Brian Austin Whitney
But they are playing music they previously rejected as not good enough ONLY because you are paying them to (though I suspect after all your vocal support, if they were smart, they'd be playing you all the time to try and push as much benefit to you as possible, so future reports from you may be a bit skewed going forward with your new role as spokesperson for them). In the end, what more does anyone need to know?

Again, we don't know whether the music was accepted, rejected, or even listened to. I have no reason to expect I'm getting preferential treatment. The system appears to be completely automated once the song gets accepted into the program. Let's be careful not to veer into ad hominem territory please. I assure you I'm doing my best to remain as impartial as I can.


Brian.

COLOR THEORY
electronic indie piano pop

http://www.colortheory.com
http://www.passivepromotion.com
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