Yesterday, yvynyl posted about how Spotify is now ‘integrated’ into Tumblr, which was the first time I heard about that (‘integrated’ being in quotations for reasons I’m sure anyone from a non-Spotify country or even just not logged into Spotify will surely have experienced). Perhaps it just happened, although I have been vacant from the internet for the past little while, so maybe this is old news. Either way, today I started to see a few people doing audio posts where the track was being pulled from Spotify and I’m not a big fan.
I don’t have any major issues with what Spotify does. It can be a handy service for checking out an album you’ve heard about, whether that be a brand new release or something from before you were born (or more accurately, a handy way to listen to albums from artists who don’t use Bandcamp). And I have found Spotify to be a nice way for me to create a personal ‘radio station’ for my own listening pleasures while at work (you know, where you want to have music you enjoy on while you go about your day, even though your mostly preoccupied with working and not ‘really’ listening). And Spotify has a very good selection of music and the interface is pretty intuitive. And since I am currently living in England, I reside in one of the chosen countries.
But I’m originally from Canada. So not only do I know what it is like to only know about a product like Spotify existing, but most of my friends still live there and still only know about Spotify. So Spotify linking up with a worldwide sharing platform like Tumblr (and Facebook before) sort of misses the point of worldwide sharing. A lot of people get a music player or link to music they can’t listen to. Which is kind of dicky and exactly the reason why I don’t bother sharing Spotify tracks on Facebook, and the same reason why I don’t see myself using this new Spotify & Tumblr integration.
Sharing Spotify music outside of the Spotify platform is the equivalent of a group people talking about an upcoming party… and one person in that group was never invited to the party. And then they’re like “I didn’t know Tom was having a party” and everybody else is like “Oh shit, I forgot that Terry wasn’t invited”. Just last week, Spotify tried to tell me that I should send some music to my Canadian Facebook friend. Which seemed like a mildly cruel joke to play on him.
On a side note… why doesn’t Tumblr integrate with Bandcamp already? That’s something I could get behind (and seems like something that should exist already).
If you can’t afford that plane / bus / train / ticket to get to Austin for South by Southwest (not to mention a week off of work), perhaps Couch by Couchwest is more up your alley. Bands can submit videos of them performing and fans can sit at home and watch. Not quite as good as what the atmosphere is like in Texas, but beats sitting at home twiddling your thumbs.
Bands, check out their submission rules (they started accepting videos yesterday and will continue to accept until the 17th) and then set the video camera up in front of the couch and get in on the festivities.
As you probably already know, Facebook has introduced their new ‘Timeline’ look. At first, it was just popping up on different friends profile pages and I didn’t really pay it any mind. But last week they started to introduce that same look to Pages. So I paid it some mind. At the moment, you can still keep the old Pages look, but on March 30th the ‘Timeline’ look will be forced on all Pages. So whether you like the change or not, there is no avoiding it.
Like a lot of people, my original feeling was “just leave it how it is”. I wasn’t a huge fan of how Facebook Pages looked, but I had a good grasp of how they worked and looked, and I was fine with it. After playing around with the new look for a bit… I think it will be an improvement (once we all get used to how it works and looks, I don’t think the learning curve will be too steep to climb). Of course, I imagine there will be a bunch of ‘Petition Facebook To Go Back To The Old Pages Look’ groups springing up, but I think your time will be best spent adapting. So this post is an attempt to help you get your page setup and ready for the new look with a focus on a few of the important things:
1. Cover Photo - This is the big photo that will now be at the top of your page. I like this change. The look of Facebook pages has always been the opposite of visually appealing, so this is a nice touch. The important thing you need to know about the cover photo is the dimensions of the picture, and those are 851 pixels wide and 315 pixels high. With the right picture for your band, your Facebook page increases in sexiness tenfold. So find a picture that you think best represents you and crop it to the right size. You can see what we’ve done on our page, and you can also check out what we’ve done so far on Patrick Porters and A Singer of Songs page (we’re still in the process of getting fully setup, as well as other artists setup). Personally, I don’t see how anyone can look at those new ‘timeline’ looks and compare them to the old looks and say that it is not an improvement.
2. Apps - These are now shown at the top of your page, as opposed to down the left hand side. The other big change is that you can only show 3 main ones (you always have to show the ‘Photos’ app) and the rest of your apps are now ‘hidden’ under a drop down menu. They have also removed the option of choosing an app to be your default landing page (which, a lot of bands would normally of had set to have people automatically land on their BandPage or Bandcamp). At first, I didn’t like this at all, as the option of listening to ones music lives away from your wall (or ‘timeline’ as it is known now). It is kind of annoying that people now have to do a little exploring before they can find where to listen to music, but I suspect this is something that we’ll all just get used to.
What I imagine Facebook is creating is a way to turn your Facebook page into something that works a bit like your own website, and apps are now acting like the different menu options a website would have. At the moment, the makers of these apps have not had time to update / implement changes that are specifically designed for the new ‘timeline’ look (i.e. there is a lot of white / wasted space in the tabs at the moment, as they were originally created for a width of 520 px and not 851). But when they do, I think it might be able to look / work quite nice… but you’ll definitely need to be selective with your apps and make sure you’re using the best ones. BandPage and Bandcamp are still tops on my list and I eagerly await them to adapt their Apps to better suit the new layout, as right now they don’t look right on the wider page.
I’m still not decided on who my ‘number three’ app will be, but for now, I’ve gone with something to show our tweets (at the moment, I use Tweets To Pages for that). If you are band that plays gigs, I would reccomend checking out Songkick’s app. The main reason for this is — as there are more than a few options for sharing your gigs — Songkick also works with Bandcamp, Soundcloud and BandPage, so by adding a gig date once, you can have it show up automatically in all those other places.
To make up for the loss of being able to set an app as your default landing page, Facebook has at least added the nice touch of being able to create custom pictures to represent the apps (and you can name them however you like). So instead of having your app named BandPage and showing the Roots Music logo (which may be recognizable to you… it might not be that obvious to other people as to why they should click it), you can call it something like Music Player and use a picture that more intuitively tells someone that there is music to be listened to there. The image size for these ‘app pictures’ is 115 pixels wide by 74 pixels high (so, pretty small; don’t use something that requires too much detail). To make those changes you just click on the drop down arrow to the right of your ‘top’ apps, which will then show all of your apps. When in this mode, hovering your mouse over an app will show a ‘pencil icon’ on the top right corner of each app. Click that and then just choose ‘Edit Settings’. I’ve done it for our current top 3 apps, and I think it looks a lot nicer than the original images that were shown.
3. Let’s get visual, visual - The new look is definitely geared around being more visually pleasing. This is especially noticeable with the new option of ‘highlighting’ a post. When you click the ‘star icon’ on the right corner of a wall post, it makes that post stretch the full width of the screen. It works really well if you have a nice picture or video posted to your wall and really makes it stand out. Which means you should probably start thinking about posting more nice pictures and videos.
4. Use it differently - The main thing that this new look will force upon you (besides the look itself) is how you use Facebook. This will mostly come with time, but here are a few things that come to mind:
The powers that be always seem to be looking for their lost revenue in the pockets of the music / movie fan (i.e. me and you). And our pockets are empty. Maybe if they checked the pockets of the people who we all are paying $50-$100 (or more) a month to access the internet at home and on our phones, they might find where all that ‘music/movie money’ of the past is going to now. By the time we pay for life’s necessities (like rent and food), if we have any money left over for spending on entertainment, of course we’re going to pay the $50-$100 a month for unlimited access to all forms of entertainment (albeit, not always legal access) instead of 1 DVD, 2 movie tickets and a couple CDs. And internet providers know what we can access on the web, so they charge us at a rate that is more or less equal to what might have been our ‘pocket money’ of the past. So we end up paying them to access content that they do not create, and not only do they get all of that money (and the content creators get none of it)… but we have no money left to directly support those things that we like (as we’ve already been tapped dry to have the access to find out about it).
Piracy is happening because we are all broke. And if they keep trying to fight piracy by shaking us upside down and hoping some money falls out, then it is going to go nowhere.
(Below is the original thread that I was reblogging / commenting on, before I got side tracked by the train of thought above)
One of the things that people get so wrong when it comes to talking about piracy is that every illegal download or free stream is a loss of a sale. It just doesn’t work like that (and besides the excerpt below, this Andrew Dubber post is another great read on that topic).
An expert in the GAO report asserts this in saying that the “effects of piracy within the United States are mainly redistributions within the economy for other purposes and that they should not be considered as a loss to the overall economy.”
But are they even quantifiable losses for the movie industry? Sanchez points to research dismissing all but a small fraction of these fantasy damages:
In many cases – I’ve seen research suggesting it’s about 80 percent for music – a US consumer would not have otherwise purchased an illicitly downloaded song or movie if piracy were not an option. Here, the result is actually pure consumer surplus: The downloader enjoys the benefit, and the producer loses nothing.
Sanchez doesn’t link to said research, and in fact it would be extremely difficult to ever accurately determine where illegal downloaders’ money would be going otherwise, but it was easy for us to find even more extreme estimates than Sanchez’ 80% spent elsewhere in the economy. Frances Moore of The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a non-profit advocacy group for the global recording industry, estimated that only one out of every ten downloads represents a lost sale. Even at that, this “loss” is not physical merchandise disappearing from a truck or warehouse. It’s simply money that the industry would have gotten, in a perfectly honest world.
This all makes total sense to me. Film profits are down because people are spending more money on phones or drugs or whatever this year. (Does piracy enable people to cut their film/music costs and distribute their funds elsewhere? Of course it does. But so does Netflix and Spotify and things people pay for. $18+ for a CD is a ludicrous rate, as is $12+ for a movie. Charge less, sell more.)
#1 - Que Entire Albums for Uploading on Bandcamp
If you have ever made your music available through Bandcamp (if you haven’t, you should), you are well aware of the very slow and painful uploading process. Perhaps I am really feeling it today as, ever since we moved to England, our internet has been a lot slower than what we were used to in Canada. But if my memory serves me correctly, even back then it was painfully slow. So I guess the reason I am really feeling it today is because I am uploading a 15 track compilation that is being released tomorrow. And it is crawling at an overweight and elderly snails pace… and it’s kind of delaying some other important things I need to do (but can’t until the album is up on Bandcamp).
The reason it goes so slow is that you have to upload WAV files, which are really big. You have to upload WAV files because Bandcamp provides consumers with the choice of downloading your music in the file format of your choise (at a high quality). This is a good thing. I just wish it was possible for me to que all the tracks I need to upload in one step and then go away (or go to sleep) and come back when they are done. Instead, you can only have two tracks uploading at one time, which means every 20-60 minutes you need to check on things and see if you can start uploading the next ones.
I got this compilation ready for Bandcamp in the early hours of last night / this morning and all I can think about today is how nice it would have been to have qued all the tracks right before I went to bed at 5 in the morning, and have woken up to them all being uploaded. Instead I went to bed at 5 in the morning and set my alarm for just a few hours of sleep, so that I would have enough time to upload tracks 2 at a time today and still have enough time to send some press emails out before tomorrow’s release. But, for now, I guess I can only place this wish out into the universe and hope it is granted.
This post is a part of a new blog series called ‘HI54LOFI RECORDS WISH LIST’. I don’t know how frequently I will post in this series. I guess it will be whenever I am doing something and I have thoughts like ‘I wish this was like this’.