REFUGEE at The Annenberg Space for Photography

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I recently visited the Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City, CA for the first time. The main space and Skylight Studios are in the middle of the Century City complex and you would never know they were there from the street. This felt elitist to me but the layout is nice, admission is free, and the underground parking is almost free with validation. The REFUGEE and NEW AMERICANS (Skylight Studios) exhibits were rich and powerful. An international team of photojournalists and professional photographers are working with the UNHCR to tell the human stories of the refugee crisis abound the world. There is a lot to absorb and this certainly changed my thinking about refugees, immigration, and the incredible human cruelty that has created this situation. I highly recommend this show which runs through August 21st.

Musicians Are Natural Entrepreneurs

Berkle article clip imageBerklee Today, the journal for alumni of Berklee College of Music, recently gave me the opportunity to explore the relationship between musical training and the skills of entrepreneurs. I interviewed several Berklee alumni who have gone on to create groundbreaking music technology companies serving independent artists.

Each of these companies provides tools that help musicians distribute music, raise funds and market themselves, but what struck me was the similarity between direct-to-fan and lean startup practices. Direct-to-fan platforms give artists a strong connection with their super-fans, providing valuable feedback and ongoing engagement. In particular, early-stage pre-release platforms like PledgeMusic show artists what their fans value and how they want to be engaged. By the time the funding cycle is complete the artist knows their customer and has had the opportunity to tweak their offerings. Each person I interviewed described their musical training as fundamental preparation for working in a startup environment.

You can read the full issue of Berklee Today here or download a pdf of the article. Please check out each of these inspiring entrepreneurs and their companies. You will be amazed!

Thinking Different(ly): Creative Music in the Digital Economy

On January 15, 2013 I gave a presentation to alumni of The Royal College of Music in Stockholm Sweden. The topic was music careers in today’s economy – musical entrepreneurship and developing multiple income streams. Here are the slides featuring case studies of several entrepreneurial musicians and a basic overview of the principles music publishing and licensing.

RCM: Business books and resources

A list of business-related books referenced in my recent seminar at The Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Sweden:

  • ReworkJason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

RCM: Creativity, problem solving, and skill building resources

A list of creativity, problem-solving, skill-building and teaching/coaching resources. referenced in my recent seminar at The Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Sweden:

  • SwitchChip Heath and Dan Heath

How Social Media Impacts Brand Marketing

Today Nielsen  released graphs illustrating where consumers are getting trusted recommendations. Their charts clearly illustrate the importance of peer recommendations and clear communication and interaction from company web sites. You can view the full post here.

Preferred consumer sourcesWhere are your customers getting information about your products and services?

What are their most trusted sources?

Are your communications reaching your audience?

Is it easy for them to join the conversation and spread the word about your company?

Who Are the Most Valuable Digital Consumers?

Today Nielsen released a potent infographic that visually illustrates current trends in social, local, and mobile media usage.

Nielsen Digital Consumer InfographicWho are you trying to reach with your communications?

How do they use digital technology?

What do you want to tell them?

Social Media for Nonprofits – UCLA

SM4NP LogoOn August 22nd, in conjunction with my work with the Los Angeles nonprofit, Project Return Peer Support Network, I had the good fortune to participate in the all-day Social Media for Nonprofits conference at UCLA. I have been to many music, tv/film, and tech conferences over the years and this was exceptional on many levels.

The event was packed with great presentations, case studies, tools, tips, and wonderful people committed to using technology for social good. Co-producer Darian Rodriguez Heyman did a masterful job as MC, bridging the non-stop presentations with helpful, targeted summaries. His closing remarks tied everything together and he seemed to have as much energy and focus at the end of the day as he did at 9 a.m.

Great Presentations

Presenters included: J.D. Lasica, founder of Socialbrite, Evan Bailyn, Founder of First Page Sage and Good Media Company, Holly Ross, Executive Director of NTEN, Bryan Breckenridge, Head of Nonprofit Solutions, Linked In, Charles Porch, Consumer Marketing, Facebook, Matt Mahan, VP of Social Impact, Causes, Brian Fujito, CEO Razoo, Dave Boyce, CEO Fundly, Joel Bartlett, Director of Marketing, PETA, and a panel discussion featuring, Geoff Livingston, Filiberto Gonzalez and Nedra Weinreich. Each presentation was available online within minutes . You can find the day’s robust tweet stream but searching on hashtag, #sm4np.

Takeaways: Big Ideas, Targeted Tools & Granular Data

No social media event would be complete without continual reference to Big Ideas like “Engagement” and “Authenticity”. The social media world is rapidly maturing and each day these high concept terms are demonstrated concretely, with results that are making a huge positive impact on the world.

Tools and opportunities multiply at a dizzying rate. I am continually inspired and amazed by the evolution of social media communication technologies. Just a few of the things I will be digging into include Netvibes RSS dashboard, Tech Soup (software and hardware for nonprofits), and video slideshow sites, Animoto and Stupeflix which make digital storytelling simpler than ever.

Metrics and data tracking were discussed at length, particularly in relation to fundraising. The importance of tracking metrics can’t be over-emphasized. At one point Darian Rodriguez Heyman mentioned a nonprofit that saw an immediate 30% increase in donations when they changed the color of their ‘Donate’ button from grey to red! I am sure neuroscientists can explain this phenomena, but the important thing is that robust data is available to everyone. Experiment and find what works for your organization.

All said, this was an inspiring and educational day and I made many new friends. Pay attention to Social Media for Nonprofits and check them out when they hit your town.

Were you at Monday’s event? Was it helpful for your organization?

Focus Your Content With Personas

Children mannequinsBuyer Personas are used extensively by marketers and product managers to test and focus their product designs and customer communications. A persona is essentially an archetypal character who could become your fan or customer. More than just a demographic profile of your target audience, a persona is detailed and personalized, usually based on interviews with real customers.

Product managers use personas to prioritize their features and design their user interfaces. Marketers tailor communications and web pages to specific, segmented personas. Personas can help you understand who your audience is, what their needs are, and how, when and where to reach them. Copywriter Karen Goldfarb compares personas to mannequins for your product. Read more of her excellent tips on creating personas here.

Sounds kind of silly. Why should I bother?

This may seem contrived, particularly for musicians. Either people like your music or they don’t, right? Well, there are several benefits to this practice:

  • You will learn a lot about your followers from the interview process. Creating personas will inspire you to dig deeper and get to know your customers and fans.
  • Personas get you thinking about the real value of your product and the needs it meets.
  • Even for a niche business there will be distinct types of people you are serving, who speak and live differently, hang out in different places, and get their information from different sources. Each group may use your products differently, in ways you may not even be aware of.
  • You may ‘discover’ new product ideas as you get to know your customers and their needs.
  • Artists have a potentially vast, international audience. Helping potential fans find you is an enormous challenge. Personas give you an idea where to look, and help you target your communications.
  • For a small service business or product developer, personas can deepen your relationship with existing customers, strengthen your customer care programs, and humanize your sales strategies.

Have you used personas in your business? What’s working for you?

Photo courtesy of Brandon Fick

Using Google Reader and Twitter Search to Listen

Old Radio

Since I began subscribing to RSS feeds, Google Reader has been my organizational tool of choice. I have also used Safari and Mail and follow some feeds with iGoogle, but as the volume of blogs began to grow I settled on Reader.

At first, I used it as a blog bucket but soon I needed to get organized and dug in a little deeper. The interface seemed a bit stark until I got under the hood and began to explore the ‘Manage Subscriptions’ option. Google Reader allows you to create multiple folders to organize your feeds. I follow a diverse range of blogs and Twitter searches so this has been really helpful. You can create folders on the Manage Subscriptions page or while viewing an individual blog summary. The ‘Feed Setting’ drop-down menu allows you to assign a specific blog to existing folders or add a new one. Reader Play provides a slideshow view of blog abstracts (by feed or folder) and allows you to easily ‘star’ favorite items.

Using Twitter Search feeds…

One powerful, free, online listening tool that is often overlooked is the advanced search page available at: search.twitter.com. With Twitter Search you can drill down and discover what people are talking about based on multiple keywords, location, date, etc. When you develop searches that are useful, subscribe to the RSS feeds with Google Reader just like a blog.

Why should I care?

Following and organizing blogs and online searches is a very powerful method for discovering new content, participating in online conversations, staying in touch with your customers and fans, researching your industry, and finding new sources to follow. The obvious thing to do is search on your company or industry keywords, but with a little experimentation you will soon discover a vast world of possibilities.

How do you get the most out of Google Reader and Twitter Search?

‘Old Radio’ photo courtesy of Garry Knight