Album of the Week #1: Swell – Well?

Swell - Well? Often in music, my journey – like most I suspect – is quite linear. You get into a particular genre or sound, then proceed to plough that furrow for some time as you soak up all you can. Around 1992 I was very much immersed in the US indie sound of the day – perhaps less around Sub Pop and more other labels like Amphetamine Reptile, Dischord, Touch & Go and Simple Machines among others. Whilst a majority of my friends were largely into Ride and other UK indie, I was all over Fugazi, Jawbox, Helmet, The Jesus Lizard, Girls Against Boys etc.

And yet, as we all know, just once in a long while something comes along that blows your mind. The best ones are never hyped or raved about in the press; they’re the verbal recommendations you got from someone like a secret password. In 1992, it was all about tapes and tape comps getting passed around between friends, where you’d stumble onto a song that stopped you in your tracks and left you thinking “I have GOT to find out more about this lot”.

Enter Swell, whom I stumbled upon in precisely this manner. A friend of a friend had done a stellar tape comp and, as befits the time, I soon wound up with a second or third generation copy. The original compiler of the tape had incredible taste and this comp pulled together all manner of unknown gems and artists that would go on to be recognised as legends. Amongst this though, Swell’s one song leapt out at me. It was called “Get High” and it was from the band’s first, self-titled, album.

Continue reading

Advertisements
Tagged , ,

Revisiting the Facebook reach debate

facebook_logoThe debate around Facebook Pages and their organic reach has been ongoing for years now, but it always spikes again when Facebook themselves cop to the fact that organic reach is changing or that their algorithm has changed in some manner.

The latest development is an apparent admission on Facebook’s part that Pages will now see organic reach drop to “between 1-2%”. For what its worth, previous organic reach was around 6%, and two years ago I remember telling bands I worked with that 10% was probably a sign things were going well – anything more than 10% would be a bonus. So, let’s be clear: Facebook organic reach has never been all that great.

Now though as we drop nearer and nearer to a zero figure, it rightly leaves many wondering why they bother. Just last week, Eat24 announced they were deleting their Facebook Page citing the hopeless reach as a factor.

I certainly sympathise. Let’s be clear: I’ve never been of the view that we all deserved unlimited reach with our Pages. However the ideal always felt like a balance of sorts, with day-to-day posts achieving decent reach (provided they were good) and ‘milestone’ posts (which in the context of bands would mean new single/video/album/tour) getting promoted to ensure maximum reach not just to fans but to broader audiences too. There was logic to this: it ensured a good flow of decent content to fans (which in turn kept them on the site, thereby benefiting Facebook as well) whilst also ensuring that Facebook would see money for promoting those key posts to broader audiences.

Continue reading

Tagged , ,

Motorik Beats

cover_43432117102008I found myself jonesing for some Motorik beats having played Neu’s mighty Hallogallo. One quick google search for a playlist of some kind landed me on this brilliant article on The Quietus.

Having read it, I noticed that Spotify was – at the time of compiling the playlist back in 2009 – missing some of the tracks. So, I recompiled it to add in the missing songs here.

Its ace – check it out if you can. Quite funny to read a claim that Bowie used motorik beats only to then have the evidence (which is 100% spot-on) presented to me via the playlist. Ditto Ultravox and The Human League!

Tagged , , ,

Music vs The Web: Have We Reached Social Media’s Tipping Point?

facebook_logoThis article originally appeared on Drowned In Sound.

Its been a bumper year for Facebook, on paper at least. Recently they announced that year-on-year revenues were up 60%, with advertising revenue up to $1.8bn. Their daily active user count rose 25% to 728 million people. At this point then, you’d think it would be high-fives all round, with Wall Street giving Zuckerberg and co a hearty pat on the back.

And yet, shortly after this announcement, more than $18bn was wiped from Facebook’s stock value. The reason? One, short sentence: “We did see a decrease in daily users specifically among younger teens.”

Herein lies the problem for Facebook – and indeed any tech company looking to take the IPO path: when advertising is your core product, at some point the balance will tip, driving users – usually starting with the younger ones – away.

Put simply: in order to make money, Facebook must serve ads. In order to make more money, Facebook must serve even more ads – almost certainly putting them on a collision with a critical mass point, where people burn out completely on ads and, at the very least, stop clicking on them or, as is the current case among teens, find other services to use.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Book recommendation: ‘Social Media Is Bullshit’ by BJ Mendelson

Social Media Is BullshitThis week I’ve been really enjoying reading the finely-titled book “Social Media Is Bullshit” by BJ Mendelson. Its a provocative title alright, but really the point of Mendelson’s ire here is not so much social media itself, but more the ecosystem of bullshit that has grown around it: the marketers, analysts and self-styled experts who sell social media as the solution to all our marketing problems. Ultimately, this book is a call for a bit more common sense in marketing and a bit less blind acceptance of stats and reports making often too-good-to-be-true claims. Certainly for me what resonated was the author’s attack on rather vague social media metrics being used as a genuine indicator of success. As various others (most recently Lucy Blair in her MIDEM blog) have pointed out, this is a real problem in the music industry and one that needs addressing ASAP. Radio 1 could be cited as a contributing factor to this problem in my view, purely because any campaign with an eye on their playlist focusses on the stats they know the station wants to see. However I think along the way everyone – myself included – has at some point fallen for the stats game and allowed it to dictate our strategies, and that is not a good thing.

What I like about this book is that it is not just an all-out attack with a wholly negative tone. Through the book Mendelson outlines the problems but crucially then offers solutions based on his own experiences. Reading those is a welcome dose of common sense and whilst the book isn’t perfect (and at some points lost me purely because marketing music is not the same as marketing soap powder or any other product), it certainly gives you grounds to sit and truly re-evaluate your perspective on modern media and what *really* works.

I wouldn’t say this is a book purely for marketing people either; arguably managers and label staff of any type should take a read to get that much-needed dose of perspective. Amid a multitude of blogs telling us these platforms are the future, that’s very welcome indeed.

Tagged , ,