Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

Music marketing ideas for DIY artists, managers, promoters and music biz pros


October 27, 2009

John Mayer, Augmented Reality, Music & You

Ready for the next generation of computer interactivity? Say hello to Augmented Reality! And start thinking about how you might some day use it to promote your music.
Not sure what it is? Don't worry. It's only recently become a hot buzz word (or phrase), even though the term has been around since about 1992.

Here's the most basic way to describe it: Augmented Reality (AR) involves the combination of real-world, real-time activity with computer-generated elements. It's the merging of the real and virtual worlds.

If you watch pro football on TV, you are probably familiar with the yellow first down line that appears across the playing field on your screen. The field and the players are real. The yellow line is artificially created to "augment" your perception of what is happening during the game.

John Mayer made news last week when he released the first AR music video. If you think this is like those JibJab or dancing elves videos where you insert your face into a motion picture, think again. With those, you take a still picture of yourself that was taken in the past and insert it into a video that can be shared with others.

That can be a lot of fun, but Augmented Reality takes it a step further by inserting people into videos in real time using only a webcam and a simple physical "marker."

Here are the instructions from Mayer's web site:
  1. To view this augmented reality, you must have the special Battle Studies icon. You can print this PDF (or open it on your mobile device).
  2. Turn on your computer's sound and webcam and turn off any pop-up blockers.
  3. Wait for the flash player to load (if prompted, authorize access to your webcam).
  4. Make sure the icon on your screen and the image you are holding are completely lined up (and don't move the icon until you see John).
  5. Enjoy the experience of augmented reality!
I haven't tried it myself yet, but apparently the live video captured through your webcam becomes part of Mayer's music video -- in real time. (Here's a video that shows a similar process.) Talk about interactive!

Honestly, I'm not sure yet how you go about creating an AR video on an indie budget, or even who offers this service yet. But I wanted to at least bring this technology to your attention.

Here are a few other articles on the topic:

John Mayer’s Augmented Reality Video Puts Fans in Picture

Lost Valentinos Augmented Reality Music Video

How Augmented Reality Works

Wikipedia's Augmented reality page

Augmented reality's time is coming thanks to smarter smartphones

-Bob
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posted by Bob Baker @ 7:03 PM   3 comments


October 19, 2009

The Mike Doughty Guide to Interactive Live Shows

I was all set to enjoy a mellow Sunday night at home, when Pooki got a call last night. It was her son, Matt, letting her know that Mike Doughty was about to play at the Duck Room.

Doughty was the creative force behind the band Soul Coughing (signed to Warner Bros) in the 1990s. In 2004, he became a touring solo act and soon started releasing albums on Dave Matthews' ATO label.

We've become big fans of his gravelly, low-pitched, half-sung, half-spoken vocal style -- therefore, the mellow Sunday night plans quickly went out the window. And I'm glad they did.

It was an intimate show with perhaps a couple hundred people comfortably squeezed into the Duck Room basement bar. Doughty and his long-time touring partner Andrew Livingston put on a good, stripped-down show.

But here's the thing I really thought was cool -- something I've never seen a performing musician do before ...

Mike Doughty is a smart guy with quick wit who knows how to banter with a crowd. But instead of simply winging it or relying on well-worn stories, he asks for questions from the audience.

But most of these questions aren't shouted out. He asks people to write them down on slips of paper he provides and to throw them into a jar on the stage. Every two or three songs, Doughty and Livingston take turns reading a short stack of questions and answering them rapid fire.

The Q&A segments were very insighful and entertaining -- and made for a lot of funny moments. What a great way to personalize each live show (and he has a lot of them on this current tour with nearly one every night in a different city).

Dozens of questions were read and answered last night. How to you think the fans who submitted them felt about playing a small part in the show? You can bet they told their friends about it and are now more likely to spread Doughty's music to even more people.

Another smart thing he does is record each live show and make it available that night on CDs for anyone who wants to go home with it.

That's how you involve your fans and make music personal -- as it should be!

-Bob

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posted by Bob Baker @ 6:39 PM   5 comments


October 08, 2009

Made-To-Stick Music Marketing

Everybody these days wants to create buzz. They want to grab people's attention on a large scale. And they want to do it sooner rather than later.

Therefore, everyone wants to know the secret steps they can take to ensure their marketing idea sticks -- that it gains traction and reaches the people who need to hear it the most.

A good lesson on this topic comes from musician Paul Hipp. Check out his YouTube music video called "We're Number 37" -- which, as of this writing, has nearly a half million views.


It's a rockin' original song that tackles the current health care reform debate in the US with a decidedly liberal slant. And it's been seen by a LOT of people.

You may think you know where I'm going with this, but I guarantee there's an unexpected twist coming. So stay with me here ...

If I were to ask you why this song has been watched by so many people, you'd probably say because it's a decent tune about a timely issue. Plus, it features some clever editing and funny moments throughout -- which makes it more likely to be enjoyed and passed on by those who watch it.

Correct! You can't go wrong with songs about current events, especially when they are done in a creative way that elicits a reaction from people who are exposed to it.

But here's the thing ...

This is not the only music video Paul Hipp has posted. He has several others, most of which also deal with current events from a liberal perspective. And those have respectable numbers -- from 1,000 to 18,000 views each. But they pale in comparison to the half million views that "We're Number 37" has earned.

Here are three lessons we can learn from this:

1) You have to throw a LOT of stuff out there to find something that sticks. Sure, some people hit on something big right out of the starting gate, but that's rare. The usual pattern with artists who create popular viral videos (or songs, blog posts, ideas, etc) is a history of trial and error.

The more active you are in creating a volume of content to share with your audience, the greater your odds of producing something that will spread on a larger scale. So stay busy creating new stuff!

2) Regular output hones your craft. "We're Number 37" is Paul Hipp's 18th and newest video. Look through his previous clips and you can see an evolution. His most popular video is his best one, because he learned by creating all the ones that came before it.

Learn as you promote yourself. Consider it a living, breathing classroom.

3) Being bold and specific helps. "We're Number 37" is not a generic rockabilly song. It's about health care reform -- a polarizing topic being hotly debated these days -- and Paul makes it clear where he stands on the issue.

Don't be afraid to take a stand or directly appeal to a specific slice of the population with your art.

Another quick example comes from Maria Andros, who has posted 47 YouTube videos on social media marketing and other topics. Most of her videos have between 50 and 25,000 views each. Not bad.

But one stands out at 151,000-plus views. The title? "How to Get Rid of a MIGRAINE Headache."

Who knew? I'm sure she didn't.

So ... Throw a lot of stuff out there, hone your craft as you go, and don't be afraid to be bold and specific!

-Bob



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posted by Bob Baker @ 11:45 AM   0 comments