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Building an Internet Brand

I read a great article last week about The 4 Layers of Online Brand Marketing, and it outlines some key tips for how to build a great brand on the internet with your company or blog. By modifying some standard marketing tactics for the web, the author is spot on. These are her four layers:

  1. Your Brand
  2. Your Website
  3. Content Development and Off Page SEO
  4. Social and Reputation Management

As one builds an internet business, remembering that success in brick-and-mortar entrepreneurship is very different from e-commerce is important. While this line is blurring, emphasis and expertise are needed in these areas. If you want to migrate to the internet with a business, I suggest finding somebody who knows about this stuff to help you out!

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Online Bargain Shopping

I have learned that saving money takes some extra time and effort. Rather than just walking into a store and buying what I want, I have to shop around to find the best price. The internet has made this sometimes daunting task much simpler.

Here’s a couple of my favorite websites that I check most regularly for deals on clothing, entertainment and more! Please share your own suggestions in the comments.

  1. Groupon and LivingSocial. These are the obvious ones that most people know about. They have spawned something in America called “group buying,” in which the power of numbers is used to get great deals on local entertainment, products and event tickets. Sign up for their daily notifications!
  2. Woot and Steep and Cheap. Again, most people are aware of these sites. Woot is fun in particular because of how they blend humor into the shopping experience. Steep and Cheap caters to the outdoorsy folk, offering discount prices on coats, bikes, flashlights, and other useful items.
  3. Jackthreads is one that you probably don’t know. They offer a plethora of discounted men’s clothing and accessories, enabling you to find some great clothes and great prices.
  4. Finally, checking Amazon, Craigslist and eBay for good used stuff is wise. I often find good stuff for reasonable prices.
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Did the Internet Kill the Artist? Part Five

To finish out this blog series, I want to focus on how some people in the music industry have adapted to technology and changing consumer preferences. I was able to work with two of them last summer and saw firsthand the determination they have to remain profitable no matter how much change it requires. got off the ground in 2006 with Derek Webb’sMockingbird” full-length release. By offering the entire album for free digital download, over 80,000 copies were distributed over three months’ availability. These numbers are very high for an independent singer-songwriter, even one as influential as Derek Webb, and this relatively new take on sharing music helped propel him into the industry spotlight for some time. His music continues to sell well.

The idea behind NoiseTrade, in Derek Webb’s own words, is “Who needs peer-to-peer when you can have artist-to-fan?” By offering a platform for artists to give music to their fans, a relationship is built. In exchange for the download of a full album or just a song, fans are asked for their email address and zip code so that they can be added to a database, helping create touring success. A tweet, Facebook post or email is also requested from the fan to help boost online word-of-mouth about the download, creating a viral effect. Finally, an option to tip the artist provides a means for the fan to feel like they are more directly supporting the musician than going into Best Buy and paying at a cash register.

A number of successful artists in different genres are using NoiseTrade and having great success with it. I strongly recommend checking out their current offers and building a new playlist!



Thanks for following these blog posts…I hope that they’ve been informative and though-provoking. The challenge of any business is understanding how to remain competitive as technology and consumer preferences change over time, and the music industry is no different. I often tweet and RT articles and blogs on this subject, so follow me on Twitter @DanVanMatre.

Go support independent music!

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Did the Internet Kill the Artist? Part Four

The fourth installment of this series is going to cover how the music industry is responding and should be responding to illegal downloading. Included are excerpts from an interview with my good friend Brian Morgante, a talented musician from Erie, PA. Brian has been involved with several independent bands over the years and has been on over twenty tours around the country. He’s got some great personal experience from his perspective on how downloading affects musicians that I hope you’ll find enlightening.

Unfortunately, the music industry in general has really struggled to adapt to digital downloading as the new preferred means of distribution. Instead of embracing the positives of quick and easy illegal downloading, many within the industry have fought it, trying to force people to keep buying $15 CDs. The hard fact is that consumers can’t be held back from the digital age. The old model no longer works…more and more artists are realizing this and finding success independent from a record label. I personally believe that the music industry can benefit in great ways from downloading if they approach it correctly. Brian agrees with this and has great examples of how it can work.

1. What is your opinion on how the music industry has responded to technological advances, especially digital downloading?

I feel like the music industry as a whole hasn’t really responded well at all to the technological advances affecting the whole of the business. With CD sales down 20-30 percent, you would think it would be time to start brainstorming the wider scope of things, and maybe where the idea of music is going.  I think the scary thing at this point, is that no one truly knows where that is headed. Sure, we’ve seen success from iTunes and other digital outlets pushing the idea of the digital download, I really don’t know if I personally see this lasting for any significant amount of time. When it comes down to it, most consumers are still fixated by the idea of holding something in their hand and want to open up the pages of a paper book and read it, not download it from an app store.  With the technological advances being something completely new in the market, it’s hard to say what will truly come out on top.

If the music business is going to survive, it’s going to have to be on its toes and ready for some ideas that will completely change the way we deal with music as a whole, or the entirety of the business end of things is really going to flop.

2. What is your stance on “piracy” and how does it factor into your own band’s business model?

I 100% support piracy as it has truly been nothing but an asset to Deadhorse.  Because of piracy, we were able to push our album right out of the studio from day one to literally all four corners of the world.  We have seen over 30,000 worldwide downloads of our full length album we released last June (2010), while we have sold just under 1,000 physical copies.  We might not be profiting at all off the people downloading the albums, but we are getting far more exposure through the idea of the internet than anyone we could really pay to promote us at this point.

I download EVERYTHING first and fall in love with it before I buy it.  Let’s face it – no one wants a music collection of music you “sort of” enjoy, or “didn’t really like at all”.  You want to OWN the music that you listen to all the time, the music that you’re proud of, influences you, and you want to share with the people in your life. Through that, you usually end up supporting the artists you come to love, and attend their shows, buy merchandise, etc.  It all comes full circle in the end; the formula has just completely changed. Bands need to get out of the mindset of the old ways, and start focusing on the new.

We push our album as hard as we can without expecting to see much money from it.  Because of this attitude, we get the music for free into 90% of the hands of listeners that have been exposed to us so far.  Because of that, we’ve seen a lot of those hands become fans, become friends, and through that support us by coming to shows all across the country, buying a ton of shirts, hoodies, posters, patches, etc. and even giving us donations to help us fix our van when it broke down.  We have people on our side now from coast to coast, north to south, and in countless countries across the globe.  Because of piracy, we have people ready to help us book shows when we come overseas, we have been put in touch with people that have worked out deals to feature our music in internationally released documentaries, we have seen the growth of our fan base essentially out of thin air and we keep going from coast to coast on DIY tours with no label support, no trust funds, no help at all. Deadhorse is a well-oiled machine at this point, and most of that we owe all thanks to the constant spread of our music through illegal download on the internet across the world.

The old way of thinking would tell you “I worked hard to create this, I should see a return for what I’ve produced”.  The secret is – you will, if you play by the CONSUMER’S rules.  You give the consumer what they want, they will find you, they will be on your side.  Stop thinking you’re going to sell a million albums because no one does anymore.

In a market like this, you’re lucky to get someone to listen to you, so if anything, be grateful for that first and foremost.  Piracy gets the music in the hands of people that probably couldn’t care less about you if they were only able to buy it.  Everything else will follow if you’re willing to actually let your creations brew in the hands of people around the world. The responsibility is in the hands of the listener instead of the artist, the label, the promoters, etc.  And I think that is a really awesome thing.

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Crowdsourcing Photography

I have recently been exploring the ideas of ‘crowdsourcing,’ ‘open source’ and ‘mass collaboration’ on the internet. These are fascinating ideas and while many traditional businesses question their effectiveness (and profitability), I am seeing many entrepreneurs meet success using them. Whether brick-and-mortar or internet business models, mass collaboration is changing the face of modern business.

One entrepreneur in particular started an internet stock photography company in response to the difficulty of standing out amongst competitors. Check out Bruce Livingstone’s great story at iStockPhoto’s website! Initially, Bruce offered all of his stock photography online. Today, just ten years later, iStockPhoto has over 10,000 artists, both amateur and professional, contributing their own work to be browsed and bought by whoever needs it. This business is changing the stock art industry, enabling anybody to get started and connected with buyers.

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