Wednesday, January 06, 2010 

In 2010 It's All About The Data

by Madalyn Sklar

You've probably heard these buzzwords commonly used in the last few years when talking about social networks: analytics, metrics, trends, stats. And many of you are probably saying, "what does it all mean?" Simply put, it's the collection of data. For most, it makes little sense. However, if you spend time getting to know your data you can learn a lot about what is going on as well as what works and what doesn't.

In the olden days of the Internet (and still today) you got your web site's "statistics" from your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Many provide highly useful information like page views, hits, referrers, etc. I always enjoy knowing what sites are driving traffic to my pages and which pages are most popular.

Fast forward to today and now your stats are on steroids!

Many recent blog posts including Jason Feinberg's The Year in Digital Music and Predictions for 2010 talk about this being the year of analytics. There are sites cropping up to help you gather and decipher info. Plus many sites you're already on offer analytics. Sites like Facebook, ReverbNation and FanBridge collect a great deal of valuable data that can be quite useful to you.

Let's examine this further:

Facebook offer "Insights" which lets you know how users are interacting on your fan page. There is so much information in here it's almost overwhelming. You can see how many impressions you received during a particular period as well as how many new fans. You can see the breakdown in gender and age range plus top countries and cities. To access your insights, log into Facebook then click on Ad and Pages at the bottom of your page. Click on Pages then View Insights. Click here to learn more about Facebook's Insights

ReverbNation gives you a "Stats Summary" when you log in showing your band equity, new fans, daily plays and widget hits. You can then head over to the dedicated "Stats" page which is chock full of information. There is so much in there it will make your head spin!

FanBridge has been offering really nice "Campaign Analytics" for all their paid accounts. I have really enjoyed this feature and am able to effectively measure the success of each email campaign I send out. Now I know who's opening them, clicking on links, if they are forwarding the message, etc. I find this invaluable!

RockDex is a new service that I love. It's geared for artists, managers, labels and social networkers like me looking to track artists data from music web sites, blogs, tweets, song plays, etc. I have found this to be extremely valuable in tracking my social network clients success. I see RockDex becoming quite popular as the year progresses. It's currently in private beta but I encourage you to sign up so you'll be in line to jump on board what is sure to be one of the hits of 2010.

Collecta is an interesting new site I just discovered that provides almost real-time searches on Myspace that can be useful to when searching a particular topic or artist. I found this very helpful when researching one of my Myspace clients and saw that a fan added one of their songs to his personal profile. How would I have known otherwise? This is cool!

I'll be keeping an eye out for more cool sites and services that will help us analyze and understand our data. Analytics are headed for new heights. Let's use them to our advantage!

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Please feel free to post a comment.

Copyright © 2010 Madalyn Sklar

Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 14 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success in the biz. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

You can reach Madalyn at or madalynsklar AT

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Saturday, January 02, 2010 

GoGirls Interview with Lisa Bianco

by Madalyn Sklar

What drives your music? When did you first know you had to do this thing called music or bust?

What drives my music is that endless need to create. That feeling that if you don’t “let it out” you can’t live. I enjoy the process of writing songs. I get that weird feeling that “this cool little riff or chords is gonna end up a song”. It’s an intuition that can’t be explained. The universe treats you well on those days (lol). The first time it was “music or bust” was really when I picked up the guitar. I played flute and piano since the first grade up until high school. Studied it. Took lessons. Competitions etc. But it never felt right. The guitar felt right. I always thought it was a hard instrument to play. But it turned out it was really easy for me because it was my third instrument. My friend taught me a few chords and that was it! Then I was playing hours a day learning all the rock songs 101 I wanted. There was no turning back.

Describe your music style and name three musicians you have been inspired by and why.

It’s pop singer-songwriter with a punk heart.

Nirvana-The songs were brilliant and simple. But the sound was fresh and new. They perfected the soft-loud-soft-loud formula, which still influences many artists today. I also loved the lyrics. Abstract and clever. Kurt’s singing was like no other and was so primal and right from the gut. That’s the place I want to be when I perform.

Velvet Underground-New York down to the bone. It’s really the whole package here from the music, to clothing style, vision and art/Andy Warhol. While the hippies were talking about free love in Frisco Lou Reed and co. were writing about what you’re parents did not want to hear: Hard drugs, transvestites, turning tricks, and living life in New York that was truly a jungle then. Growing up in Long Island/NY (so did Lou!), I had an immediate understanding of the music…or why such topics were song subject matter. It was saying a statement without being so overt.

Dixie Chicks-I’m giving props to “my girls” here. I never really liked country music so much but their last record “Taking the Long Way” was an inspiration to me in songwriting, harmony and just the tone of their voices. They are fantastic musicians and flawless live. I ended up buying all their records and DVD’s. They have so much class you really can’t find that anymore.

What's your ideal venue atmosphere?

I think theaters are really cool. Especially the historic ones like Hammerstein Ballroom or the Tower Theater in Manhattan. Shepard’s Bush Empire in England. They tend to have great detail in the architecture/design and that could only give you good vibes while on stage. Definitely some magic is to be made. It’s also small enough to be still intimate. But if you are from NY there is only one house to perform in: Madison Square Garden

Describe how your music career has evolved since you first started performing.

Well I started out barely knowing how to turn on an amp and didn’t know what a footswitch for a 2-channel amp was. Lol. I used to get nervous with my heart pounding just before I got on stage. Now my effects board weighs in about ½ of my weight. I tour in the NY tri-state area. I have performed at some reputable conferences like CMJ and American Music Festival. So it took quite a few years to grow and learn. I did not get to this point overnight.

How would you describe the music scene in your area?

You know that is so hard to say. NYC has A LOT of people in it full of musicians. There is still the old hard rock/metal going on. Folkies with their guitars. And the hipster rock skinny jeans rock bands. It is diverse. I think you can pretty much find a subculture of any genre you can think of. But some would say maybe things have drifted to rock bands with ‘bells and whistles” meaning they lack a traditional instrument in the band (i.e. no guitar or no bass) and a funky old keyboard/synth player who you call your “utility guy”. Some would say songwriters have drifted to the “Americana” meaning back to a Petty/Springsteen Nebraska era vibe. I don’t know...

What was the inspiration for your latest release?

My current album is called “Post Data”. It is an artist collective in Brooklyn. They create art based on old technology and manipulate it or the programming some how. They use data beyond its original intended need. This collective was mentioned in a Village Voice review of Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” album. Comparisons were made with that. What it made ME think was that we live in this world of ridiculous technology and apps to do everything. A Post Data world or society. You don’t have to leave your house to communicate. And sadly we lose human contact and interaction. You know we are naturally wired to have intellectual conversations in real time face to face. But the world has gone mad once again and we have less and less time to do so. We stay in contact with Facebook and such or texting. And that is better then not I guess. So, it was my drive to write songs relating to that in a loose sense. A deconstruction of communication as we know it... and I feel fine.

What do you think is number one for a musician to think about before preparing for a CD project and do you have any tips on saving time in the studio?

Number one is making sure you are working with the right person. Be it a producer or engineer. The relationship is KEY. Don’t record somewhere because it is free or you got a great deal. You have to be on a certain level of connection with your recording team. To save time in the studio make sure your songs are ready: the arrangement, any re-writes of verses or choruses. Pre production is a must. Work out all parts with your band in a rehearsal studio before hand. Have your producer hear it and make any suggestions for revisions. That is what he/she is there for. This way when it’s time to record you all know what is going on in the songs.

What makes or breaks a musician just starting out in your opinion?

Drive. You got to have it. It’s a shitty business and people will tell you you suck and you will never get anywhere. You must believe in yourself and your music. Also, don’t be stubborn. Learn from (hopefully) constructive feedback from people. Be open. Evaluate. It can only make you better.

Describe your toughest moments in your quest for a music career and tell us how you overcame them.

When I started singing I was pitchy. I didn’t sing my whole life. In fact I never did until I started paying guitar and wanted to write songs. I was in a few bands and they wanted me to step down from singing and get another singer. I actually gave in to that for a while. I didn’t want to in my heart and I lost hope that I could sing. Thankfully the band broke up. Lol. I took voice lessons and I continue to study today. It’s an underrated instrument. I worked my ass and my wallet off. But it was totally worth it. Now I have people offering vocal studio work for me.

What advice would you offer up and coming artists that get discouraged other than don't give up?

The Beatles were passed up to get signed many times over when they were starting out...remember that. Being an artist is a life long commitment. You have to keep plowing away. I believe talent and some luck that you create for yourself will make you successful. People’s tastes are so subjective. You never know who will fall in love with your music and be that one person to make you a superstar.

Tell us something you want the music world to know about you.

I made a promise to adopt a dog from a shelter one day and save it’s life. Dogs are amazing creatures. Due to my schedule I don’t have time to take care of a dog and I feel I should really be in it 100%. In a perfect world I’d love to adopt a pup, an old 14 y/o dog on its way out and the dog that no one wants. They all need equal love.

What have you gotten out of being a member of the GoGirls community?

Putting shows together and meeting Go Girls from out of state. It’s also a comfortable atmosphere to approach anyone to ask questions. The network really connects you if you want it too.

You can connect with Lisa Bianco at:




    Madalyn Sklar is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social networks expert and author. She has spent over 15 years helping independent musicians and music business professionals achieve greater success. Her motto is: working smarter not harder. She also founded, the oldest + largest online community of indie women musicians.

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