Sex First, Music Second. Can Female Artists Do Better? 2011-06-01
Nothing wrong with some sex appeal, but is this getting out of control? In a recent conversation with the Guardian, XL Recordings founder Richard Russell aggressively challenged the notion that female artists must be hyper-sexualized to succeed, while recoiling from the "faux porn" seeping into videos today. "I felt a bit queasy," Russell said after watching a raft of sex-focused music videos broadcasting on MTV.

That includes Rihanna`s "S&M," which - surprise - perfectly describes the video. "But now you see that Adele is number one. What a great thing, how amazing. Not only are young girls going to see that, but [also] the business people who are behind all those videos. It`s going to make them rethink what they should be doing."

But hasn`t this been the formula for most female artists for decades, at least in genres like pop and urban? And, a central component of the vitality surrounding artists like Lady Gaga and Madonna before her? Perhaps, but Russell complained that the resulting product is more typically "boring, crass and unoriginal," which could easily be pinned to artists like Rihanna, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, and even Gaga.

The question is whether Adele is an exception, or whether she really has the power to transform the marketing and perception around female acts. "The whole message with [Adele] is that it`s just music, it`s just really good music," Russell said. "There is nothing else. There are no gimmicks, no selling of sexuality. I think in the American market, particularly, they have come to the conclusion that is what you have to do."

Then again, maybe all the hyper-sexualization is helping Adele, simply because consumer appetites are often reactionary. Meaning, too much of one thing simply produces an appetite for another, often the exact opposite. And that`s a trend that will probably never go away.

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Express Youself - This Way..! 2011-02-11
Madonna / Gaga mashup... Let us hear your thoughts? Click Here To Listen

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Album Covers In Lego! 2011-02-10
Check out some well known album covers made out of Lego. Some people have too much time on their hands...

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10 Ways to Trade a Song for an Email Address 2011-01-25
I measure my success as a recording artist by the growth of my mailing list. The best way to get someone to subscribe is to offer something in return, and a great song is a powerful incentive. Here are ten techniques to negotiate that delicate exchange:

1. The classic squeeze page. You’ve probably stumbled onto one of these before: a fine-tuned infomercial-style pitch with a clear call to action and no exit links. The sole goal of the site, often just a single page, is to generate conversions. In our case, a conversion means “squeezing” an email address out of a potential fan. Seamus Anthony describes the method here and demonstrates it using his own music here. It may do the trick for first-time visitors, but returning fans have no clear path to explore the rest of your content.

2. The homepage squeeze. Identical to the classic squeeze page, except for a small link that takes you to the rest of the site. Returning fans are forced to opt out every visit - an annoying speed bump. Then again, if the free song is rotated often enough, it may encourage repeat visits. Theoretically, a site could use cookies to bypass the squeeze page for return visitors, but I don’t know of any service or WordPress plugin that does it.

3. The “free mp3 download” page. This is my current strategy, but there’s definitely room for improvement. An SEO friendly “” URL and clever use of keywords can pull in traffic from Google searchers trying to freeload your music. While a simple “free mp3s” link in your site’s navigation isn’t distracting for repeat visitors, it’s easy to overlook. Still, I’m not going to force my fans to jump through hoops every time they want to post a comment.

4. The fan club. Thomas Dolby offers two full EPs exclusively to registered members of his forum. This soft sell approach encourages die-hard fans to join the conversation, but I doubt it pulls in much new blood. If your focus is to satisfy your existing fanbase, fan club exclusives offer a surefire way to retain their love and devotion.

5. The widget. Your mailing list service should provide a widget to gather fan addresses (I use ReverbNation’s FanReach, but FanBridge is another great choice). You’ll obviously need it for the squeeze page of your site. If you’re still sporting a MySpace page, you’ll want to embed it there as well. On sites where you can’t embed a widget, you can link directly to the signup form. ReverbNation and FanBridge provide every artist with a landing page to send potential subscribers to (for example, mine is here).

6. The Facebook page. As far as I know, you can’t embed a mailing list widget directly onto a Facebook page. Fortunately, RootMusic and ReverbNation have Facebook applications to run their all-in-one profiles, including mailing list signup, in their own tab. You can also build a custom HTML landing tab in Static FMBL, which isn’t as hard as it sounds. I’m using Facebook ads to direct potential fans to my FMBL tab, which encourages them to download songs from the Band Profile tab, courtesy of ReverbNation’s My Band application. Embedding a mailing list widget directly on my FMBL tab would streamline the process, but it’s beyond my technical abilities.

7. Viinyl. The slogan for this new service, currently in beta, is “one song, one site, one URL.” I’m auditioning it at It’s slick, simple, and direct, allowing the listener to focus on the featured song with minimal distractions. On the flipside, it doesn’t offer a clear path to the rest of my content. Whether or not that’s a fair trade remains to be seen.

8. NoiseTrade. Speaking of fair trades and horrible segues, NoiseTrade isn’t as streamlined, but it offers a high degree of control. Artists typically give away an entire release in exchange for an email address and a Facebook or Twitter update linking back to said release. Fans have the option to tip up to $100 (you get 80%), so it’s essentially a “pay what you want” model.

9. Tweet for a Track. A variation on the same theme, Tweet for a Track does pretty much what you’d expect. Fans enter their email address, which is passed on to the artist, and then share a link back to the song’s TFAT page on Facebook or Twitter. You can see it in action here. The catch is, they charge a minimum of $24.99 to share your fans’ email addresses with you.

10. Bandcamp. The backbone of my entire operation. Bandcamp offers up my discography to the world for sale, streaming, and sharing. Even if you don’t have anything to sell, you can host as much music as you’d like for free download in a variety of audio formats. You choose whether or not to require an email address on a per-song basis, and it doesn’t cost a penny if you stay below 200 downloads per month. Another great feature is their Facebook-embeddable widgets, which play right from the news stream.

Getting folks to subscribe is the easy part. The hard part is holding on to them! Nurture those new fans by communicating with them on a regular and consistent basis, and don’t think about selling anything until you hit 1000 subscribers.

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How music-buying habits have changed 2011-01-15
Continuing a series of features about the UK`s changing music-buying habits, writer Graham Jones, pictured above, takes a closer look - and listen - at five of the country`s most unusual record shops. My claim to fame is that during the last 20 years, I have visited more record shops than anybody else that has ever lived.

Working for various music distributors, I would spend almost every weekday visiting about five stores all over England, Scotland and Wales.

Whenever a new record shop opened, I would be there like a shot, in an effort to ensure that my product filled their shops before my competitors approached them.

When I started my career, the UK had more than 2,000 independent record shops. Today only 269 remain.

Over the last five years, an independent record store has closed on average every three days.

It got me thinking: Wouldn`t it be tragic if all the record shops shut down without anybody documenting their history

So I decided to tour the UK and interview the 50 record shops I believed would be the "last shops standing", to find out why they are still going when hundreds of others have bitten the dust.

I started off thinking I was writing the obituary of the record shop. Instead, my resulting book became a celebration of great characters who shared some amazing tales with me.

The UK still has some fabulous record shops, and here are just a few.

They all have one thing in common: they are run by knowledgeable staff who share a love of music and give great customer service. READ MORE..... http://

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