Dying of D.I.Y.’ing? Outsource!

What is behind the name of the artist? Obviously, his music and a bunch of different sales and marketing activities. A new trend called outsourcing has been on the rise as a way for record companies to cut costs and still produce a great product. Outsourcing is being used in a few different ways: music production, promotion and distribution.

Universal Music, the world’s largest music publisher and record label took advantage of the expertise, scale and resources of an experienced supply chain specialist called arvato. In result, the Company improved the next-day delivery service for UK and Ireland orders, which was done by implementing a new warehouse management solution.

“There was no specific ‘problem’ we were trying to fix – nothing was ‘broken,'” says supply chain manager Clive Smith. “But by outsourcing something non-core we’ve still been able to realise real benefits and improved our processes at the same time.”

Not only recording companies, but also start-up musicians and acts are looking towards new opportunities, outsourcing features and DIY culture. They are trying to do developing, marketing, sales and administration all at once on their own.  This group of artists decided to turn a back on the traditional record label model in search of a better way. Despite the internet makes do-it-yourself so easy, there are too many services, and so much change finding the way is expensive and quite difficult. D.I.Y. is making you crazy? Then outsourcing is for you!

There are quite a lot of things that can be outsourced:

  • Web-design, coding and logo design
  • Analytics and statistics
  • Video shooting and editing
  • Recording and mastering

And apart from technical stuff there are plenty work left for bookings research, search engine optimization, social media activities, content writing etc. Artist usually pays 10%-15% commission fee to a booking agency, but it is not a big deal to find a personal assistant that can perform a range of different tasks (including bookings) for $5/h. Do you feel that breeze of saved money coming back into your pocket?

Think about outsourcing as time (saved) and investment. It is important to find a good reason and possibly to start with a small budget assigning tasks to the army of freelancers. Overseas workers should be considered also as they might cost 3-4 times cheaper. Check Odesk.com where you can find contractors for any kind of tasks – from programming to business consulting and project management. ScriptLance.com is mostly focused on web-development and Guru.com is perfect for finding freelancers in technology, creative arts and business fields.

One more resource to mention – a blog by an outspoken member of Generation-Y, music marketer Greg Rollett. Gen-Y Rock Stars was a brand, developed as a blog and business for indie musicians to explore online tools and communication to develop their own brand. Sign-up on a web-site and get free pdf with all necessary resources + 2 mp3 podcasts, or just simply start with videos.

On this note we want to remind you, that Holly Blue is an integrated marketing communications firm or the Boutique Agency that offers PR services, product development and bookings. HB offer is:

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Happy Easter!

Time is flying and coming sunday and monday we already celebrate Easter. Even though Easter for many is about their religion, for most of us here it reminds us of egg hunts! Each year you see children on the streets, in parks and at home searching for eggs. They look everywhere, behind every corner, under blankets and much more!
As an artist management company or A&R department of a record company, a search is always done to find new talents. Just like easter eggs, you never know where you are going to find that new talent. At the most unexpected places, at the most unexpected times, things can happen  that you do not expact.
Let’s see what you find this weekend!?
Happy Easter from Holly Blue Productions!

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Music Analytics at IASPM2011: Spotify will vanish

The IASPM conference held on 14th and 15th of April rather surprised. Indeed, the differentiation between speakers was quite big. Disappointment, that many students speakers could not answer questions from audience. The most common phrase you could hear:”Oh, I didn’t complete any research on that”. But lets leave them and talk about speakers that brought a huge inspiration.

First to mention is Dr Lee Marshall from University of Bristol. He was talking about stars in the recording industry and changing dynamics. But before his talk, this respectable gentleman was hiding on a last row stinging every speaker with fair questions. Should I say that some of the presenters “capitulated”? And today he even came to us again and gave a perfect overview on music industry biggest players and 360 degree deals. Well done! Thank you and hopefully see you soon!

Other amazing speaker Michael Christianen shared his opinion on developing systems that help customers to optimize the music discovery, managing and sharing processes. This presentation highlighted those concepts together with the results of the research done by Michael in the past 15 years. He also represented his research on streaming business model, claiming that Spotify might disappear, but Goggle or even Amazon might catch up and become major providers of a streamed music and other cloud content. But these grands should consider several attributes, such as:

  • Discover
  • Acquire
  • Manage
  • Use
  • Share

These components must be considered, developed and modified in order to establish a competitive service that will hit the spot. Paradigm shift that started 10 years ago is not finished yet. As Michael said:

“For established parties, it is therefore important to act pro-actively, integrating new technologies, new business models and alliances in order to forge a solid position in the value chain to secure.”

We are here, to provide you with latest updates on music industry. Stay tuned.

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How do you stimulate the creative process?

Big companies often have several divisions within the company. Each department is responsible for their own tasks and communicates with other departments only when needed. But why not combine all the strengths and services of each individual and departments together?

 All companies of Rookie Music International met up on Monday for some creativity in the sun.Each company had to think of 3 services they can offer the rest, and had to present this in a creative way! In the end several ideas where generated to create revenue for Rookie, combining all the services offered. Ideas such as:

– A workshop event

– Rent out the school studio

– Give social media classes to companies

– Use a Polaroid camera at parties, make instant photos and sell them for 1 euro

– A Food Fair fundraise

All these ideas where thought of in less than an hour!

How do you stimulate the creative process?

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Pimp your office!

An estimated 70 percent of workers spend their time in cubicles. Where would you do your best work? Can you sit in a grey cubicle and come out with productive, creative ideas?

“They provide pseudo-privacy at best, and are terrible for spontaneous communication,” says Franklin Becker, director of the International Workplace Studies Program at Cornell University. Despite the high-walled cubicle offices perform the worst and also cost employers more to build, private offices are still useful for certain tasks. “The closed office clearly has a place,” says Becker. Some tasks require a high level of concentration, focus and privacy.

First of all, you should analyze the organization, it’s needs, processess, culture and also decide for yourself. Consider two most important predictors of job performance:

1. The ability to do distraction-free work for teams and individuals.

2. The ability to have easy, frequent, informal interactions.

Here it comes, a conflict between Privacy and Collaboration. Becker recommends a range of small-scale four- to eight-person rooms. They can be in a room fully isolated or clustered in a larger space (Just look at our Rookie office!). “There are times when someone needs total privacy, but no one works eight hours a day in the total concentration mode. You work in spurts; so you need to have the chance to get privacy when you need it.”

It is not only about working in cubicles, but also how can you make your place enjoyable to work.

Imagine yourself working in a bright, organic and playful environment. Check these 10 seriously cool places to get basic ideas of how you can improve your working place. Also, 12 ways to pimp your office. Bring your bean bag, cushions or something, that makes you feel cosy, comfy and open to collaboration. Here is a nice example, how 4DS.ync improved their space. 

Holly Blue is going to make a report about most remarkable and creative office spaces at RMI next week!


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As we grow, we learn how to focus and choose right source of information, how to choose friends and how to communicate with all of them. But what is your limit? Recently, gambling online I noticed a beginning and a rapid ending of the conversation. One of the players answered to another:”Sorry, I don’t have time for any more buddies”. Indeed, internet made it so easy to find new friends and buddies, potential partners and client. But should we limit them? And what is the threshold for a friend? Is it enough to ask “how are you doing” once in a week/month? Or is it necessary to have some form of conversation? From one side Dunbar argues that the number of people with whom humans can maintain a relationship is limited to 150. Going over this number will make these connections weak. But it seems like new ways of communication and social networks are increasing Dunbar’s number. It is not a only about language anymore. For example, posting “Happy Birthday!” to profile or even just simple “like” helps maintain these connections. Therefore, number 150 is already irrelevant. So, how to beat Dunbar’s number?

Morten Hansen in his book “Collaboration” offers some solutions. In fact one of Morten’s network rules is actually “build weak ties, not strong ones.”  According to author:

“But research shows that weak ties can prove much more helpful in networking, because they form bridges to worlds we do not walk within.  Strong ties, on the other hand, tend to be worlds we already know; a good friends often knows many of the same people and things we know.  They are not the best when it comes to searching for new jobs, ideas, experts, and knowledge.  Weak ties re also good because they take less time.  It’s less time consuming to talk to someone once a month (weak tie) than twice a week (a strong tie).  People can keep up quite a few weak ties without them being a burden.”

Even back to 1973, Mark Granovetter explained very well in his article The Strength of Weak Ties how powerful are weak ties.

Check this great article by Richard Beck, professor and experimental psychologist at Abilene Christian University. He gives a quite clear explanation what is so strong about weak ties taking into consideration a recent article by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker entitled Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not be Tweeted. Gladwell writes:

“The platforms of social media are built around weak ties. Twitter is a way of following (or being followed by) people you may never have met. Facebook is a tool for efficiently managing your acquaintances, for keeping up with the people you would not otherwise be able to stay in touch with. That’s why you can have a thousand “friends” on Facebook, as you never could in real life.

This is in many ways a wonderful thing. There is strength in weak ties, as the sociologist Mark Granovetter has observed. Our acquaintances—not our friends—are our greatest source of new ideas and information. The Internet lets us exploit the power of these kinds of distant connections with marvellous efficiency. It’s terrific at the diffusion of innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, seamlessly matching up buyers and sellers, and the logistical functions of the dating world. But weak ties seldom lead to high-risk activism.”

I suppose, almost everybody who is reading this post has much more than 150 facebook friends. So, how you handle all of them? Do you have certain rules, such as “checkin – make sure to message this person once a month to check in” or “connector – people who are at the core of lots of deals” like Chris Brogan? Or you keep your facebook page for close friends (a circle of 150) and use other networks for weak ties?

Your thoughts?

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The Pilots – Infinite Skies EP is online!!

We are very excited to announce that one of our own team members has released his own EP!!

Check it out and let us know what you think!

You can listen the tracks of their EP on: www.thepilots.nl

Keep them on your radar! Cause they are ready for take off!!!


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The world of music copyright is evolving. Monopolies of collecting societies are under pressure. Composers complain about a lack of benefit, users about non-transparent and high tariffs. Why should you as a composer pay a membership fee to such an organization, when you have to fill in a lot of forms and get nothing or little in return? Why should you as a user pay such high tariffs? This can change… (villamusicrights.com, 2011)

Even though artists are free to manage their own rights, most artists choose to transfer their rights to collecting societies. Best know society in the Netherlands is Buma/Stemra who takes over the right for existing works as well future works. Another platform to manage your rights is Creative Commons. Creative Commons focuses fully on the online area, trying mainly to stimulate the legal use of music (and other creative works), but also their free use. And now there is VillaMusicRights. VillaMusicRights a worldwide operating website for music authors (composers) and users of their musical works, provide a database on which music authors and lyricists make their works available together with the necessary licences. VillaMusicRights is founded by Koos Kalkman and Jan Smits.

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Help Japan!

People/ Celebrities.. Isn’t it time for another version of ”We Are the World” for Japan?

On the 11th of March 2011 A huge earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 hit Japan. The quake was followed by a large tsunami that flooded large areas. Thousands of people were killed and many are missing. Also the danger of a nuclear threat is huge!

We Are the World: 25 for Haiti” is a charity single recorded by the supergroup Artists for Haiti in 2010. It is a remake of the 1985 hit song “We Are the World“, which was written by American musicians Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, and was recorded by USA for Africa to benefit famine relief in Africa. Initially, in late 2009, it had been suggested to Richie and Quincy Jones—producer of the original “We Are the World”—that a re-cut version of the song be re-released under the title “Live 25”. Following the magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake in Haiti, which devastated the area and killed thousands of people, it was agreed that the song would be re-recorded by new artists, in the hope that it would reach a new generation and help benefit the people of Haiti.”

Come on.. help benefit the people of Japan this time!! ”We Are the World, We Are the Children”

We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let’s start giving
There’s a choice we’re making
We’re saving our own lives
It’s true we’ll make a better day
Just you and me

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Bon Jovi gave THE Interview of the week and slashes against Steve Jobs

The interview created quite a big buzz since Bon Jovi blamed Steve Jobs “for killing the music business”.


On the one hand Bon Jovi’s opinion is understandable: Itunes made it unnecessary for people to go to a record shop. No more hassle with driving to the city, buying the album and driving back. Now, they could just buy it with basically one click. Suddenly music became really easy accessible for mostly even a lower price than previously. Obviously the music business is not really happy with earning less money per CD.

Or was it Napster?

But wasn’t this development bound to happen soon anyway? With the start of Napster online consumption of music really started of. Some people didn’t like using Napster since it was illegal and therefore ITunes provided a nice and easy solution for them. After Napster shut down  many of the illegal music downloader became users of ITunes due to the low prices. Music became basically so cheap that it was for many people not worth it anymore to download it from some shady websites. ITunes and therefore its creator Steve Jobs, didn’t do anything wrong, they just provided a legal alternative for music buying and consumption when the music business couldn’t or didn’t want to do it.

Nowadays the internet is surrounding us 24/7, it would be unimaginable if the music business wouldn’t be partly happening online as well. Therefore it only seems logical now that Itunes came into existence.

Or ITunes and therefore Steve Jobs?

Additionally ITunes gives the user the opportunity to only buy the songs he/she really wants without being stuck with a whole album the user might not be interested in. This is really nice for the user, but for the music business it is disastrous! Less people are spending money on a full album and thereby destroying the overall artwork of many artists. The artwork, the construction and the songs are not randomly chosen by the artist but are arranged as a personal art piece of the artist. By only purchasing a few songs the user does not listen to the songs like it is intended to be, part of the listening experience is gone.

Overall I think Steve Jobs didn’t kill the music business but pushed it in a new direction and gave it a new life online.

Bon Jovi is probably not totally against ITunes since he also earns money with it…

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