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Apple Lost An IP Case To Myspace. Wait, What?

Seems that Apple, interested in shoring up as much intellectual property as they possibly could, tried to trademark their Music player icon, that orange box to the left. But their efforts were for naught as another tech company had already beaten them to the punch, trademarking a similar icon. Egads! Who were the nefarious corporate saboteurs behind this? Perhaps Samsung, taking pot shots in response to their continued legal pounding at the hands of the iPhone makers? Or maybe Google, one of Apple’s adversaries in the patent wars?

Nope. According to GigaOM, it was Myspace. Myspace. Huh.

Between that pretty awesome trailer for their upcoming relaunch and this, Myspace is grabbing more headlines at the moment then they have in years.They’re having a hell of a week, huh? And when was the last time those words were written?!

Continue reading ‘Apple Lost An IP Case To Myspace. Wait, What?’

Don’t Call It A Comeback: Check Out The New MySpace

When Justin Timberlake took ownership stake in MySpace following the site’s acquisition by Specific Media, we weren’t sure whether the pop star had a brilliant idea up his sleeve, or whether he just wanted a million dollar personal server to store all of his selfie mirror shots. Thankfully, JT has spared the world from any more swoopy-haired profile pictures, choosing instead to steer the former social media giant towards a beautiful new design emblazoned all over with, yes, himself. A new promotional video posted yesterday shows the redesigned MySpace in action; huge, high-definition profile pictures move effortlessly across the screen, streaming videos play smoothly in the background, and Timberlake’s frozen, smiling mug appears at almost every turn like a creepy uncle who won’t leave you alone at Thanksgiving.

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Exclusive Q and A: G-Eazy Talks Tour, Tunes, and Time Travel

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsImagine an alternate reality where rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop come of age simultaneously, and greasers blast fat beats from vintage car stereos on their way to the sock hop. This is the world of G-Eazy, a New Orleans-bred emcee and producer whose been on a precipitous rise to the top of the rap game for the past few years.  After a string of mixtape releases culminating with The Endless Summer, which demonstrated his pitch-perfect blend of doo-wop and hip-hop, G is poised to take over the national scene. He’s opened for Lil Wayne and A$AP Rocky, and is currently one of the few hip-hop artists on the Vans Warped Tour. We recently caught up with G about the tour, his upcoming album, and what he’d really do with a trip back in time.

OS: You’re playing on every date of the Vans Warped Tour this summer.  What has it been like so far as a hip-hop artist on a mostly punk tour?

G: Well, it totally feels like I’m an outsider, but it’s all working out just fine. I think that having Mod Sun and T. Mills playing the same stage that I’m playing helps a lot because we have a lot of crossover fans that we share. But other that that it’s been fun. It’s been interesting being the outsider and not always fitting in, but there are a ton of cool people here and a ton of cool bands. It’s not really my scene and I wasn’t even into this as a kid, so it’s definitely strange, but it’s really awesome in its own way. There’s a lot of fans here that straight up look like actors from a Tim Burton movie.

OS: But you’re also kind of an out-of-the-box hip-hop artist yourself, with the ’60s doo-wop vibe that you bring to your tracks.  What if you could go actually back to the era that you emulate in your music?  Which artist would you want to collaborate with?

G: The obvious answer would be The Beatles, but that’s not really a possibility. I feel like they wouldn’t collaborate with anybody. They were kind of in their own world.  But if it would be possible to squeeze into one of their sessions and find a way to work with John Lennon, that would be really unbelievable. Also, I mean, if I could go back in time and I could get Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers to the studio and have them lay parts down, I think that would be kind of awesome.

Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q and A: G-Eazy Talks Tour, Tunes, and Time Travel’

Loyalty to the End: NeverShoutNever Travels Through Time

NeverShoutNever

NeverShoutNever

OurStage artist NeverShoutNever has gone through some changes lately. Starting as the sole musical conduit for Christofer Drew, NeverShoutNever took its first steps towards stardom by rising through the ranks of MySpace. The band then set off on tours with the likes of Hellogoodbye and channeled their growing Internet stardom into a major label contract. As much as NeverShoutNever seems like a dream-like DIY Cinderella story, when considering the band’s origins as a creative output for one individual, it makes the logistics behind the recently released third album Time Travel even more remarkable. Not only does the band play with new sounds, the album also marks the first project the group created together as a cohesive unit. And they weren’t alone in helping to make it happen. In the process of crafting the album, the band stopped by the up-and-coming Burbank-based production company Loyal Studios to record the music video for “Time Travel”. Check out the video and some exclusive behind-the-scenes pictures below. Also, feel free stop by Loyal Studios’ blog entry on the shooting to get an inside scoop on the process of shooting the video and insight in the growth of NeverShoutNever.

Industrial Revolution: MySpace – The End Is Nigh

Oh MySpace. I don’t think I need to delve into your sad story because it’s a familiar tale. Even if you don’t know the details of the rise and fall of the Internet’s first smash hit social media site, you still know the story—assuming you studied ancient Rome in grade school or have watched literally any rock bio-pic film ever made. Humble beginnings, spectacular rise, crucial missteps, steep decline, public shame, optional drug overdose, likely death.

The ending is yet to be determined, of course, but demise seems inevitable. The prescient 24/7 Wall St. blog has released their yearly “Ten Brands That Will Disappear” list for 2012, and while the inclusion of such stalwarts as Sears and Kellogg’s Corn Pops might surprise many, the appearance of MySpace is no shock. But it is the first official time-of-death call, and it’s from an observer with a pretty good track record of predicting these things (for example, the disappearance of both T-Mobile and Blockbuster). Their summary is concise and worth excerpting in full:

MySpace, once the world’s largest social network, died a long time ago. It will get buried soon. News Corp (NYSE: NWS) bought MySpace and its parent in 2005 for $580 million which was considered inexpensive at the time based on the web property’s size. MySpace held the top spot among social networks based on visitors from mid-2006 until mid-2008 according to several online research services. It was overtaken by Facebook at that point. Facebook has 700 million members worldwide now and recently passed Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO) as the largest website for display advertising based on revenue. News Corp was able to get an exclusive advertising deal worth $900 million shortly after it bought the property, but that was its sales high-water mark. Its audience is currently estimated to be less that 20 million visitors in the US. Why did MySpace fall so far behind Facebook? No one knows for certain. It may be that Facebook had more attractive features for people who wanted to share their identities online. It may have been that it appealed to a younger audience which tends to spend more time online. News Corp announced in February that it would sell MySpace. There were no serious bids. Rumors surfaced recently that a buyer may take the website for $100 million. The brand is worth little if anything. A buyer is likely to kill the name and fold the subscriber base into another brand. News Corp has hinted it will close MySpace if it does not find a buyer.

Indeed, just one buyer remains a possibility at present, and that is the Chairman and CEO of Activision, Bobby Kotick, who heads an investor group interested in having a stake in the company, rather than purchasing it in full (theoretically, News Corp would retain 20%). Word is that even if this investment somehow goes through, it ain’t gonna be for no $100 million. [Late-breaking update: Sure enough, News Corp. has reportedly made a deal to MySpace for $35 million to Specific Media. News Corp. is expected to retain a 5% stake.]

Rude.

What happened to MySpace? It really is hard to say. The first thing that springs to mind is the lack of a communal space (Facebook’s “Wall”) that allowed users to really feel connected to their friends. Then came the deluge of users and spammers, who were eagerly accepted as friends in order to raise that number. In that way, MySpace was a learning environment, which informed our later behavior on Facebook. We knew, by then, to be more selective, and that the number of friends you had really didn’t matter at all. Without MySpace, all those mistakes would have occurred on Facebook, which would now resemble the gaudy wasteland of MySpace (damn you, layout wizards!).

For many of us, MySpace was attractive as a music discovery site. But unfortunately the music on MySpace sounded like shit, due to their standard low-bit-rate streaming MP3s. When MySpace began to accept that they had lost the social media game to Facebook, they tried to re-focus on just music. But they had blown their credibility on that front, and many other, less tainted and cluttered sites had filled any void left by Facebook’s (initial) lack of interest in catering to music fans (Soundcloud and Bandcamp being the current leaders). The once-hyped MySpace Records has foundered and this year laid-off at least half of its staff, though is still apparently functioning as an A&R operation in partnership with Interscope Records.

The thing is, efforts like MySpace start up and close down all the time. The world gets what they want out of it, learns from it and evolves. The only reason it’s still a matter of interest is because of MySpace’s former ubiquity. It really was the first social media site to pervade the public conscious. It was also the first time artists saw the web as more than just a secondary marketing tool, opening up a world of direct fan engagement. In these ways it was a success. But for the music business, this is yet another object lesson that you need to stay ahead of the game, predicting what’s next, rather than trying to cash in on what’s already working by cobbling it together with your business model. And just like with social media, the deluge hampered the ability of quality artists to connect with willing fans. No one is certain what will happen next and how this latter situation might resolve. But here at OurStage, fan-driven music discovery—where the community evaluates and puts the good stuff up top—is our bet.

[Ed. Note: You can read MySpace CEO Mike Jones' letter to the staff regarding this week's sale to Specific Media here.]

MySpace Clears Out Office Space

It’s no secret that MySpace, a News Corp.-owned social media Web site, has been struggling in recent years.  According to Hypebot, 54 percent of US internet users were on Facebook, while only 27 percent used MySpace as of December 2009. That being said, MySpace let about half of its US workforce go last Tuesday— roughly 500 employees. There is speculation that News Corp. is trimming down MySpace to make a more palatable deal should they choose to sell. According to Business Insider, Yahoo in particular may be interested in purchasing the company.

(TechCrunch.com)

This is not the first time that MySpace has suffered major restructuring. Owen Van Natta, ex-CEO of the social media giant, cut nearly 30 percent of its employees in July of 2009. He, too, was replaced  the following February. Despite the rumors that suggest News Corp. is packaging MySpace to be sold, MySpace officials had no comment on the subject. However, CEO Mike Jones did say “Today’s tough but necessary changes were taken in order to provide the company with a clear path for sustained growth and profitability” in a statement last Tuesday.

The layoffs were spread out evenly throughout the company, says TechDay, except for the massive reduction in international employees. Jones maintains that despite the smaller audience for the site, their new strategy is based around more effective advertising. “The new organizational structure will enable us to move more nimbly, develop products more quickly, and attain more flexibility on the financial side,” Jones said. “We are also committed to rebuilding the company with an entrepreneurial culture and an emphasis on technical innovation.”

So how will this affect musicians on MySpace? Hard to say. With half of MySpace’s staff gone, users may expect a decrease in customer service and tech support. While Jones claims a more nimble organizational structure, they’re still operating with half of the manpower that they had just a week ago. It seems unrealistic to expect the same level of support during this transitional phase for MySpace. On the other hand, if Jones follows through with his promise for a focus on an entrepreneurial culture and technical innovation, then this massive layoff may provide MySpace with the cash it needs to make some significant changes.

MySpace has dominated the social media music scene in recent years and has launched the careers of more than a few musicians, but Facebook, YouTube and other similar sites have been positioning themselves for a music coup d’état should MySpace falter. MySpace knows the importance of their musicians, however, and doesn’t plan on relinquishing control just yet. “We will continue to be absolutely committed to supporting musicians and will continue to create new tools and opportunities for them to build their fanbase and manage their communications,” the senior vice president corporate communications told The Music Network. MySpace is in the hot seat, and the coming months will reveal how well they can adapt in order to survive.

Behind The Mic: 20 Things All Artists Should Be Doing

As the Behind the Mic series comes to an end, we’d like to give you all a list of 20 things we think all artists should be doing to keep their fans engaged, pack their shows and promote their music.

From having an online presence to setting up distribution for your albums, we hope this list will help you hone your skills as both a musician and a business person in the fast-paced and constantly changing music industry. After all, your band is your brand, and it takes lots of hard work and dedication to reach your goals!

1. Get online. This is an obvious one—you’re already here, but if you don’t yet have an account on OurStage, sign up now! As our artists will tell you, it can be a career-changing move. You should also have a MySpace page, a Twitter account, a Facebook page and anything other account you think you’ll use. You don’t need to sign up for every single music site you see, because chances are that you don’t have the time to update all of them all the time. An outdated profile is useless, and sometimes detrimental to your progress!

2. Consider making your next album an EP, or a 3P. As we discussed earlier, the 3P is the future of music releases. We live in a world of instant gratification, so music fans are showing preference to purchasing a few EPS over the course of a year than an annual album.

3. Take some new band photos. Ditch the old photos from last year and get some updated, high-quality shoots. You’ll need them for your websites and press kits!

4. Get your album reviewed. There are a million bloggers out there waiting for albums to review. Get your music heard and attain a quotable review for your EPK and bio.

5. Research potential sponsorship opportunities. Sponsorships are a great way to offset the costs of being in a band. Learn how to reach out to companies for sponsorships for clothing, gear and more.

6. Be gig-savvy. Plan your gigs carefully—be sure not to double up on the same market more than twice in a month, and watch out for potential scams. You might want to start using a band calendar to keep track of everyone’s availability. That will save you the extra step of calling each band member every time you’re offered a show. And don’t forget to use our Gig Finder to find new show opportunities!

7. Learn the business. The music industry can be tricky. Learning the ins and outs of record deals, tour planning, etc. will put you at an advantage over other musicians!

8. Practice your live show. The test of a true musician is seeing how well you can replicate the sound of your record in a live setting. Take our tips for honing your stage presence and your next show will be even better than your last.

9. Sell your merch online. Fans who can’t come out to shows need a way to buy your merch too. Set up a webstore and start selling!

10. Manage your mailing list. Set up a mailing list and an account on a newsletter site. Keep your fans in the know and offer them cool incentives for signing up!

11. Promote to the college crowd. College kids love music and love being the first to know about the hottest upcoming bands. Learn how to get in with the college crowd by playing shows, getting on-air interviews and handing out free merch at local schools!

12. Webcast your next show or acoustic set. Make your fans feel like they’re getting the VIP treatment by putting them front row center to an intimate performance or live show, or just host your own webchat. Webcasting is a powerful artist tool, so make sure you get on it as soon as possible!

13. Launch a fan-funded campaign. Fan funding is the hottest new way to raise cash for a new record, tour or merch collection. Source your funding from your fans and reward them with awesome, exclusive prizes!

14. Design cooler merch. With all the crazy merch out there, T-shirts and CDs are old hat. Get creative with your merch and give your fans some fantastic new swag.

15. Record a cover song. A cover song is a fast, fun and easy way to get extra exposure and promotion. In a  time when music is discovered online everyday, posting a cover song or video can actually help launch an artist’s career!

16. Run a street team. Gather a group of your most dedicated fans and start a street team. These fans will be your grassroots promoters, so get some unique and innovative ideas together to get your name out there.

17. Take care of your voice (and other instruments). Take our tips for proper voice care and check out Jay Schneider’s Tune Up series for pointers on keeping your instruments in top shape.

18. Hire a manager (when the time is right). One you have a solid following and are making money off your music career, you should consider getting a manager. They can be a huge help in getting ahead in the industry, but they are ultimately a representation of you—so choose carefully!

19. Update your official Web site, don’t ditch it. Don’t forget about your official Web site! It’s the go-to place for accurate and up-to-date information, and should not be replaced by MySpace or Facebook.

20. Have fun! Being in a band is a challenging, time-consuming job, but ultimately, it’s about the music. Remain dedicated, work hard  and stay passionate about your art!

Behind the Mic: DJ Promotion

There are countless articles giving advice to bands and solo artists on promotion, marketing, performance and more, but rarely is this advice given specifically to DJs.

So how does a DJ get their name out there in order to get their music heard? How can they secure jobs at bars, clubs and parties? This week, we’re going to give some pointers to those of you behind the turntable.

Once you have a suitable mix tape on CD—aim to have at least three or four songs—you want to get it in as many hands as possible. It’s absolutely crucial that you label your CD with your name, Web site and email address before giving a copy to anyone. As the saying goes, you never know who people know! If your music is enjoyable, people will show their friends, who will show their friends and so on. You never know who will end up hearing your music, so make sure people can contact you easily!

Get a head start on your career by offering to spin at a friend’s party or throwing a party of your own. It’s the easiest way to show off your skills and start to get your name out there, while also getting practice for your live performance.

You should also do some research on music blogs that host mix tape streaming. Sites for underground DJs are extremely popular, so having your music posted on one of these blogs gives you the potential to reach a large audience. And like any other musician, you should also have artist accounts on Facebook, MySpace and OurStage!

Once you have a solid amount of experience under your belt, you’ll want to secure a set at a bar or nightclub. The DJ plays a very important role in terms of promotion for dance clubs, so you should be on the top of your game in this area, especially. If a DJ can help bring in a draw to a club on their own, they will instantly be more valuable to that club. Having friends who are successful DJs can also come in handy, as they’ll be able to vouch for your abilities to clubs who don’t yet know you. When you feel ready, send out or deliver your music with a press kit to as many places as possible.

When you’re hired, you can impress the club by doing as much self-promotion as possible. Make high-quality flyers and post them around town and in the club where you’ll be spinning. As it is for bands, you’ll need to prove yourself in your area by showing that you have the talent to draw a crowd of people to come see your set.

DJs, put your spin on this advice! What promotion tactics have worked for you in the past?

 


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