Yesterday I interviewed Dr. Vasant Dhar, the NYU professor behind the research paper “Does Chatter Matter? The Impact of User-Generated Content on Music Sales”.
Dr. Dhar and student Elaine Chang studied the effect of user-generated blog chatter on 108 major and indie CD releases. Their findings indicate that there is a relationship between blog buzz and music sales, and I just love that they even took the time to do this kind of research. To have quantifiable results on the effects of blog chatter on music sales opens up a whole world of possibility, and I look forward to transcribing this interview so I can share it with you soon. Thank goodness I finally took those typing lessons!
Before meeting, Dr. Dhar was concerned that he wouldn’t have anything profound to say for our interview. Au contraire! I was fascinated by Dr. Dhar’s research, as well as his breadth of knowledge on topics from artificial intelligence to Scandinavian death metal. After chatting with him for 45 minutes, I imagine that he’d be a cool professor to have.
You really can learn something new every day!
Today is Friday, February 29, 2008. It’s a leap year this year, and I totally forgot about the folklore associated with Leap Year: These are the years when a woman is allowed to ask a man to marry him. Women get this “permission” only once every four years, when we gain an extra day on the calendar. This extra day satisfies man’s construct of time, so the days “fit” into the bigger scheme of things.
That is some interesting stuff, when you think about it. When a woman wants to get married any other time, she basically works her mojo on a man, makes him so enchanted (or tired of being harrassed about it) until he is led to “pop the question” of marriage. The woman is ecstatically happy (in many cases ;-), and if she is honest with herself, she’s not really surprised that he proposed. She has probably wanted to be married to this man. At the very least, she wanted to be asked. To know what that moment feels like.
On Leap Years, women can escape the bullshit, and just take the bull by the horns (ahem) and ask for what they want directly: “You dig me. I dig you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Let’s do this. Marry me.”
Now I can’t tell you what that would feel like for the guy, because men hate that kind of pressure, for the most part. They sincerely and truly want to believe that getting married was their idea (I hear you ladies giggling!).
In today’s NY Daily News. a woman is proposing to her man today, taking the opportunity of Leap Year to propose to him. I hope he says yes. Otherwise it may be a bit embarassing to put your stuff out there and then get shot down with the whole world to know, right? But dammit, there’s something beautiful about a woman proposing. Forget the Victoria’s Secret lingerie! Forget the 4-star home-cooked meals! Forget all the gifts and trinkets!
Just take me, for the rest of your life.
I recently signed with Ariel Publicity, led by the very cool Ariel Hyatt and her Cyber PR Team. In addition to obtaining reviews for my CD Supernova, she’s also getting me ads in internet radio, and podcasts! I’d be excited about that anyway, but now she’s booked me to perform on the Next Big Hit video podcast.
The video podcast show is called Dressed Up and Stripped Down, in which viewers will get to listen to “dressed up” studio tracks from Supernova, and then see me perform the songs “stripped down”. I love to perform, so I’m quite psyched about this gig. And this podcast gets up to 40,000 listeners via iTunes, so I’m ecstatic!
I’ll be videotaping next month, and I’ll keep you posted!
Returned this morning from my hometown of Miami, FL after celebrating my Godmother’s 78th birthday. It was a nice and hot 89 degrees, which was a lovely change from last week’s 21 degrees in NYC. I even have mosquito bites in the strangest places, but I digress…
On the way to Miami on JetBlue Airlines, I caught my first episode ever of Making the Band 4. I admit that consciously resist watching music business reality shows since I often disagree with a TV show producer’s idea of reality, but hey, I was on a plane, and needed a distraction from a fellow passenger with foul coffee breath (OMG!).
Anyway, I found myself intrigued by the antics going on with the recording artists on the show, who were handpicked by P. Diddy to make their records: a girl group from the last season, Danity Kane, a male urban group, and a male “blue-eyed soul” solo artist.
So tonight back at home in NYC, the next episode of Making the Band 4 is on, and again, I watch the whole thing. Among the other story lines going on was the one in which the girls of Danity Kane were unhappy with the tracks that they had been given to sing. Diddy had assembled a team of serious producers and songwriters to write tracks for the artists, and while the guy groups were loving the tracks being written for them, the Danity Kane girls hated theirs.
The girls felt that they were receiving too many slow tempo romantic songs, while what they really wanted was some uptempo songs that were about empowerment. They explained their vision to the A&R guy and the producers, but their words pretty much fell on deaf ears. They knew exactly what they wanted, but they weren’t getting it. I was soooo relating to their frustration! At one point, the A&R guy asked them if they thought they could do a better job, and the girls, led by the outspoken Aubrey, said yes.
The A&R guy then went on to say how many artists have thought the same thing, and have ruined their careers. That really burned me up!!! I can acknowledge that not all artists can write music, produce or run their business, but that doesn’t mean that no artist can. This kind of “create a machine-insert any singer-release a record” thinking is why I have a problem with the old school/traditional music business. And if you ask me, that kind of thinking is what has them losing money today.
Danity Kane went platinum on their first record, and I’d bet money that it wasn’t just because P. Diddy was behind them. The good thing about music reality shows is that they allow the artists to build a fanbase and a STORY. When you have viewers tuning in every week, they often become emotionally invested in the artists. In other words, they become fans. And if a record release is timed correctly, the artists will have fans ready to buy.
In the new school way of thinking, artists also need to get their own online presence going. This establishes a bond with a fanbase that is not tied to a TV show, producer, or record label. Just look at the American Idols who have already been dropped from their record label deals. When the show that pushed them into stardom ends, they quickly fade into obscurity.
I’d suggest building an online fanbase to keep their star warm. It’s not the job of the record label to build an enduring fanbase – it’s yours. The recording artist’s job is to make the world fall in love with them. A record label’s job is to sell records. If you no longer have a fanbase of your own (not attached to the current reality tv show), your records won’t sell, and you’ll get dropped like a hot potato. When you have your own solid base of listeners that love your music, they will support your art for years. It’s not an overnight process, but once you get your breakthrough, don’t leave it to chance.
Back to Making the Band 4 – The girls finally got to tell Diddy to his face how they saw themselves and their music. Surprisingly enough, he actually apologized for not sitting down with them earlier to discuss their vision for their sophomore record. Diddy’s temper is legendary, so I didn’t expect this (neither did the girls!). He agreed to give them more uptempo tracks, and the scene ended with him hugging them. I wasn’t sure if he was going to follow through, but he then hooked the girls up with songwriter Mary Brown. Miz Brown hooked them up with a HAWT track about being a bad girl, and the girls were on Cloud 9. Impressive!
Can’t promise that I’ll continue with commentary on Making the Band 4, but damn, that was good TV!
Well, looky here!
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In his new research paper entitled, “Does Chatter Matter,” co-authored with former student Elaine Chang, NYU Stern Professor Vasant Dhar, an expert in the strategic implications of information technology, finds that the volume of blog posts featured on the Internet before an album’s release can significantly affect future album sales, and in turn predict sales for record labels. This is the first study to quantify the economic impact of user-generated content for the music industry.
Based on a sample of 108 albums released during the first two months of 2007, Professor Dhar found:
Professor Dhar tracked changes in the volume of online chatter—blog posts and the number of friends an artist has on MySpace—four weeks before and after an album’s release date.
The reason why I built this blog in the first place was that I had theorized that this was the case. But now that there is quantifiable proof, I want to know more. After reading this press release, I tracked down Dr. Dhar, and he’s agreed to be interviewed for this blog.
Okay, so I didn’t make Forbes Magazine’s list for Top 20 “Cash Queens of Music” this year, but look who did:
1. Madonna: 72 million dollars
2. Barbra Streisand: 60 million dollars
3. Celine Dion: 45 million dollars
4. Shakira: 38 million dollars
5. Beyonce: 27 million dollars
6. Gwen Stefani: 26 million dollars
7. Christina Aguilera: 20 million dollars
8. Faith Hill: 19 million dollars
9. Dixie Chicks: 18 million dollars
10. Mariah Carey: 13 million dollars
11. Hilary Duff: 12 million dollars
12. Avril Lavigne: 12 million dollars
13. Martina McBride: 12 million dollars
14. Britney Spears: 8 million dollars
15. Carrie Underwood: 7 million dollars
16. Nelly Furtado: 7 million dollars
17. Fergie: 6 million dollars
18. Jennifer Lopez: 6 million dollars
19. Sheryl Crow: 6 million dollars
20. Norah Jones: 5.5 million dollars
But then again, I’m just getting wound up. There’s always next year!