Potentially Boost Your Spotify Stream Numbers With This New Feature

I’m writing today because – and I may be late to the party – but Spotify finally enabled Canvas for all artists via the Artist Dashboard. What’s Canvas? Well, you know those short, neat little videos that play during a Spotify stream on a loop on your screen? That’s a Canvas video. For the longest time, you had to ‘apply’ to have it added to your profile, but it always felt like it went into a black hole (which, considering now that it’s enabled for everyone, might have been the case 🤦‍♀️.

So, I’ve circulated the update to my clients and we are editing selected tracks and enabling this feature for all future releases.

Here’s what you need to know if you are looking to add it to your tracks, too.

Where to enable Canvas:

  1. First, you need to be sure you’ve claimed your artist profile at artists.spotify.com. If you haven’t and you’re on the platform, for shame! Jump on it right away. Not only can you do this new Canvas trick, but you can also control your profile picture, biography, links, and look at listener stats as well as pitch your new music to Spotify playlists.
  2. Once enabled and logged in, click on the Music Tab.
  3. If you want to add Canvas to an upcoming release, click on ‘Upcoming’ on the Music tab.
  4. There, you’ll see your upcoming release, with the playlist pitch and the Canvas options enabled. Click on ‘Manage’ under Canvas: Enhance Your Release
  5. Once prompted, click Add by the track you want to add your video to.
  6. Drag and drop your file in and hit save!

What are the required specs?

Below are the overview file requirements:

  1. 9:16 ratio
  2. At least 720px tall
  3. An MP4 or JPEG file
  4. 3s to 8s long (MP4 only)
     

The full details – as well as some great inspiration – can be found on Spotify’s website here: https://canvas.spotify.com/en-us along with a handy video on how to add as well here.

I’m really curious to analyze the stats on tracks with Canvas videos vs ones that don’t for my clients – I’d like to see if it makes a difference. Spotify claims “when listeners see a Canvas, they are more likely to keep streaming (+5% on average vs. control group), share the track (+145%), add to their playlists (+20%), save the track (+1.4%), and visit your profile page (+9%)”. What’s also great is your followers can share the canvas video on socials, like their Instagram story, and it really becomes content for the release.  And personally, a lot of these Canvas videos that have caught my eye led me to check out the official music video – which I hope to accomplish for my clients!
So, give it a go – even a simple loop video could make all the difference – and get creative with your tracks on Spotify!

How a VA can help with Crowdfunding

I know I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like to be, but some exciting projects took off last month that I had to devote my time to – in a great way! It definitely hasn’t been a slow summer!

One of these projects is helping out with a Kickstarter for a pre-release of an album – which I’m really excited about getting out in the world! Kickstarter’s, and any crowdfunding efforts for that matter, take daily commitment for the 30 days you have to raise your goal.

If asking funds from your family and friends for your next album isn’t overwhelming enough, setting everything up on your Kickstarter page, planning and pricing out rewards, creating your video, promotional graphics, emails, messages, posts, publicity, shipping, fulfilling orders….well, that should be! Especially for just one person!

If you’re starting to sweat it when pumping up for your Kickstarter and you’re coming up short with hours and help, you might want to consider hiring a virtual assistant to help you before, during and after the campaign!

Here’s just a few ways they can help you make it happen:

Pricing your rewards – Have a VA price how much it would be to order merch, CDs or Vinyl you are planning to include in your rewards so that you can make sure you level those accordingly. Don’t forget about shipping costs, too.

 

Proofread your Page – Have a VA proofread your full story, page and rewards so you can publish to the world with confidence.

 

Schedule out Emails – A VA can help draft, proof and schedule out emails to you mailing list to promote your Kickstarter to – especially during the first few days of launch and last few days for the final push!

 

Send out messages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – Work together to create a non-spammy message to help send out to your followers. I recommend keeping the outreach to your close friends and families personal, but to those who you don’t know, a VA can help send the message out!

 

Build graphics for promo and social – With Canva, it’s now easier than ever to build out graphics for promotional and social media use. Have a VA layout banners for your social media profiles to make every platform lead fans and followers to your Kickstarter!

 

Keep you on schedule – When building out your daily to-do’s, a VA can load the tasks with deadlines into a project management system like Asana or Basecamp, so that you can always know you’ve done everything you wanted to do to make your Kickstarter a success!

 

Brainstorm promotional ideas – Kickstarter’s usually have a lull period. The first and last week are where your campaign will get the most action. During that lull period, you can offer contests to boost funds in the middle. Have a VA come up and brainstorm with them contest ideas – like offering a live concert or give everyone a CD if $1000 are raised by a certain date.

 

This is truly just the beginning of how a VA can help you with a Kickstarter. Each campaign has a different goal and audience and with that, requires different ways of getting it out there. In any case, a VA will make you seem superhuman in your Kickstarter!

 

P.S. In case you are curious as to what project inspired this post, I’m excited to share with you Robyn Cage’s Kickstarter for her upcoming album, “Slow The Devil”! I’m more than honored to be involved in this project and hope you will consider supporting her music! My favorite is that Mystery Box – can’t resist a little mystery! 😉

Album Release Checklist

 

One of many reasons why a client comes to me is helping them handle their next album release. Being independent, it’s up to them to handle artwork, distribution, registration, the works – on top of promoting it, performing and practicing – which is on top of normal life obligations. Doing it alone is not a light task.

While I hope it’s clear to you that you need to delegate on help with artwork, press, booking, music videos and promotion, sometimes the actual paperwork of getting the album release gets buried – but is essentially just as important when it earns you money for every stream, purchase and play of your upcoming album.

Some of you may find check lists boring, but I LOVE them. Why? Crossing off that item lets me know the next step was completed, and I can go to sleep at night without my head spinning and thinking, wait, did I do that? Should I do this?

I don’t use them for everything, but I definitely have one for album releases. There’s just too much to miss or get confused by with everything that needs to be done.

So, here it is, in no particular order.

__ Register Copyrights. You immediately own your copyright when the song is in fixed format (sheet music, recording, etc.). It’s very easy to do and I recommend handing it off to your VA right away. Just visit http://www.copyright.gov/ to get started. Note, you can register your album as a collection, so you aren’t paying the fee for each song.

__ Affiliate with a PRO if this is your first release, or add the track information to your PRO – ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. Some distributors that work with independent artists will do this part for you when setting up your album for an extra fee.

__ Add the album to SoundScan. Whether it’s a single or album, register the title at Nielsen Soundscan. Visit http://titlereg.soundscan.com/soundscantitlereg/ to fill out the form. If you have any questions while filling it out, I’ve found their phone support is always available and always helpful.

__ Set Up Distribution. Whoever you use, make sure to get started early on distribution. Some need at least 2 weeks in order to set up pre-orders, and delays can happen. So once you know the date of your release, go ahead and start on the distribution. If you need some guidance on how to find the best distributor, Ari Herstand has a great resource on his blog here.

__ License any cover songs. You’ll need to obtain a mechanical license in order to release a cover song on your album. I’ve only had to handle this with a Christmas album, but with covers being more and more popular, it’s becoming easier to license as well. Some distributors will help with this, but you can also do this by visiting http://www.easysonglicensing.com/.

__ Set up a Private Soundcloud playlist of the album. This will be key if you want to share the album with anyone before it drops. No one wants to download your mp3’s, give them easy listening access via Soundcloud. Plus, most blog submissions and press submissions request a streaming link!

__ Add the album to Soundexchange. If you’re the owner of the songs, primary artist or in the band, there are additional digital performance royalties you can collect on when music is played on internet/satellite radio. PROs don’t cover this, but Soundexchange does. Note, it can take months to get added so if you haven’t registered on their site, do it now.

__ Send the album to Pandora. Lots of people still use Pandora so you’ll want to make sure your album gets added. It takes all but 5 minutes to send it off and if you’re approved, you’ll know in a matter of weeks. I’ve seen it happen in a few days before, but the earlier, the better.

Once you have registered with all of these sites and gathered the album information (UPC, album cover, ISRCs, credits), all of these tasks above can be handed off to a VA to complete. That way, you can focus on the more important things, like practicing for your big release concert! 😉

Hope you find this helpful – feel free to print it off for your next release – and can’t wait till next time!

What size should your album artwork be?

Spring has sprung (well, maybe more like summer here in Florida!) and I can already tell everyone is happier with the sun out and shining.

Currently, my client is planning to release a summer album, so we’re currently in the starting process and designing the cover art and finalizing all the information for the new release. It’s always exciting for me to work on a new release!

We’re doing the design in house and already figuring out the layout, photos, title and front cover, when I quickly stopped and said – Wait! Do you have the required dimensions? What about the color mode or resolution? I really didn’t want all of these hours of work to go to waste when we try to upload or send out only to learn that the size isn’t right or something as small as the color mode should be CMYK instead of RGB.

I’m so glad I checked in and brought it back because the designer wasn’t given any direction yet on resolution/color mode/or size. It is very important to have this information so that when you are ready to send to your distributor, you have it right the first time and you can get your album out there sooner than later.

To help make your next album release a smooth and quick process, here are the details for the top digital distributors out there to give you a good idea of the industry standard.

Tunecore – www.tunecore.com
JPG or GIF
Dimensions: 1600X1600 pixels
Color Mode: RGB
Resolution: 300 DPI

The Orchard – www.theorchard.com

JPG or GIF
Dimensions: 1500X1500 pixels
Color Mode: RGB
Resolution: 300 DPI

CD Baby – www.cdbaby.com
JPG
Dimensions: 1400X1400 pixels
Color Mode: RGB
Resolution: 72DPI – 300DPI, however 300 DPI is preferred.

Reviewing the top three digital distributors out there, the industry standard of a digital album cover and what you should give to your graphic designer is 1600X1600 pixels, JPG, RGB color mode and 300 DPI resolution.

A quick tip from me to you – once you have your album cover completed, ask for the following sizes in your final artwork.

  • 1000 x 1000 pixels
  • 500 x 500 pixels
  • 300 x 300 pixels
  • 100 x 100 pixels

This ensures you have the cover ready to distribute to journalists, bloggers, etc.

A good rule of thumb is to double check your distributor to make sure you start out with the right dimensions to avoid having to go backwards or calling up your graphic designer with news that you need him or her to resize the artwork. I’ve been there and it’s no fun having to basically re-do artwork that you work so hard on to complete. And it goes without saying it causes a delay in getting your music out there to the masses!

We are now well on our way to creating a great album cover that’s ready for distribution set up and these tips should help you get on your way with yours too!

How I set up a video shoot in less than 24 hours.

I get asked quite a bit what goes on in my day as an assistant to a musician. I find it hard to fully explain, but I CAN tell you, it’s never dull and I learn something new every week. This makes it highly rewarding and exciting with a dash of the good stress. The stress that pushes you to blow your own mind and do something you didn’t think was possible.

 
Here’s an example.
 
Last year, one of my clients had a very exciting new CD/DVD release. It was definitely an album that included a concept never done before, so everyone on the team AND the public were excited for it to be released.
 
During a meeting a few months before the release with our publicist, she suggested that we create a video press release – a visually exciting video that would showcase the release and highlight it’s importance and what makes it so different than any other album anyone has ever done.
 
The problem was, my client was traveling constantly for other performances months before this needed to be completed. Even when he was back in the office, other activities were already scheduled. I was stuck trying to figure out when this could be created since I knew my client wanted to make this happen, if at all possible.
 
I saw an opportunity. My client had one day free, and our team member who specialized in videography was also in town. I emailed them both saying, “If we’re going to do this, we should do this tomorrow.” So without delay, they responded with a yes, let’s go for it, and the countdown began.

While we had the manpower and we had the space (an apartment), we didn’t have the proper video equipment available. This had to result in a high quality and professional video to be able to release to the worldwide press, so we needed top-notch video cameras and lighting.
 
Believe it or not, a company in New York accepted rental inquiries and fulfilled them within 6-8 hours. I struck gold! After quick approval from our videographer, I put in the rental order and gave them all the requirements (scanned IDs, Credit Card Scans, Insurance forms, etc.). I went to bed thinking, “The impossible has been done!”
 
Once the rental store opening up in the morning, I went straight to the store and easily picked up my video equipment. In a matter of hours, they put together a video camera, memory card, stand, light stands, blubs and reflectors for me to take away to the apartment. It was on!
 
I hopped in a cab, carrying more bags of equipment than I had hands, but somehow handling it all and headed to the apartment. Once I got there, the videographer and I got to setting up.
 
While the camera was being tested, my client approached me with a list of questions for me to ask him that he put together the day before so he could easily and comfortably talk about his new release. It was brilliant and effective. He could speak to me, someone he was comfortable with, to be able to say what he wanted to say about them album in the video. It wouldn’t have the effect of him talking AT the screen.
 
Then, we thought it was all over. We turned the lights on in the room, and not 15 seconds later, half of the place lost power. We blew a fuse! We all looked at each other and literally cursed. My client wasn’t sure where the fuse box even was. We started looking and found it behind a bookcase that was mounted on the wall. (I cannot make this up!). So, we got unscrewing and unloading books from the case so we can access the fuse box. Minutes later, we opened it up and reset the fuse. Success! I also moved the lamps to the other outlets in the apartment so that it wouldn’t happen again. 🙂
 
With that fiasco out of the way, we set the stage with a nice background, focus and got to the ‘interview’. Not even an hour later, we had some great footage and we all felt great about the look and feel of the video results.

Can you believe it? In less than 24 hours, we had footage for a video press release. Just the day before, I didn’t even know if it would happen.
 
That is a moment that I feel highly rewarded for staying persistent and making a goal happen. Most people might have given up and said, “Oh, we should have planned this better,” or “It wasn’t meant to be this time around.” But our team knew that for this release, it was important for this video to be created.

The key to take away here was that the team worked together to make it happen. You might have the will yourself, but you are going to need the support to help you see it through.
 

The result? Well, see for yourself!


Hope you enjoyed my story and that it inspires YOU to build your team so you can keep pushing toward the goals you have. 

Have a great weekend,

Make your next album release stand out to your fans.

Lately, I haven’t been feeling so well, so I’m trying to take it easy with lots of tea and rest. I think with the season changing, I’m also getting a little bit of a spring cold. Nevertheless, things are moving along here for me with a website being built, a DIY Tour Packet being written and my clients are creating exciting new products! Recently, I celebrated with my client who just finished off the recording and mixing of his new album. I am really excited for him and cannot wait for it to hit the stands. I’ve been listening to it nonstop these past few days!
 
One of the many reasons I love working with musicians is being able to be part of the process of all that goes behind releasing a new album. A part of me is amazed at the entire process and I admire musicians for pouring their hearts into an album and allowing just about anyone come into their world for a listen. It’s even more amazing to allow fans to peek into that process, because I know they are so interested in how the music happens!
 
This release was special in that we involved the fans more than usual in the process. We feel the music from this album is going to be a real crowd-pleaser for his fans, so we wanted to make them feel a part of the process!
 
Setting up the schedule for rehearsals and recordings was quite the task. This album was particularly special in that it involved many duos and collaborations. I had to coordinate with several different musicians to find time for rehearsal and recording for both my client and the studio. It took focus, but keeping a Google Calendar kept me organized. I also would check in each week with the studio to make sure all times were right. Weekly emails to the musicians was also necessary to avoid any confusion – being on a deadline, we didn’t have time to waste from people not showing up!
 
Because these rehearsals were happening months in advance to the release, we thought it would be a perfect idea to videotape the duos and release them one by one before the actual CD release! We knew fans would love to see the collaborations and the recording studio; plus it was a neat way to get them excited for the new music and see some of behind the scenes while also hearing a preview. We released 6 videos, spaced out every few weeks, each of them easily gaining 1000 views the first day they posted.

Don’t have the budget to video tape? Create videos on your phone with clips of recordings and messages to your fans and post on Vine or Instagram!
 
While the rehearsals and recordings were being scheduled and happening, we had our wonderful graphic designer create some options for the CD cover.  To involve fans, we actually posted options of covers on Facebook and let the fans tell US which cover they liked best. That was a lot of fun to hear their comments and suggestions; I highly suggest it for your next album! You might get some ideas you wouldn’t think of on your own or with your team.

Take this idea to the next level and invite fans to vote on their favorite cover. As incentive, offer a free download of a new single from the album! Your fans will really appreciate that.
 
After my client mixed the audio and the master’s were created, we decided to upload the audio to SoundCloud, letting people stream the music and simply, just get to hear the music. Fans love free, especially when it’s a high quality product. Now we have the ability to share the album before they can buy and they can decide if they would like to have their own copy. Once it’s available for download, we’ll make it available for purchase, but having the previews available is a nice way to welcome your close fans to your new piece of work.

Don’t want to make the entire album available? Just choose 3-4 songs that you think represent the album the best. You want fans listening and excited to hear more!

What are your favorite ways to promote an upcoming album? What unique ways have you involved your fans in an album release? Did you notice better sales from it? Send me a message, I’d love to hear your experience!
 
I hope you all have a wonderful day, wherever you are.