SEO As Your Marketing Instrument

SEO - What the hell is it and why do I need it?



Simply put SEO is both a tool and a method used to tell search engines like Google and Yahoo how to find your website, why it exists, what it contains and who they should send to it. It is an essential tool which may seem daunting at first, but once you know the basics, getting started is fairly simple. Think of your website as a a musical instrument. You have to learn to play it and just as any instrument, it helps to set up correctly from the start. Most of the most popular website building apps like Wordpress, Wix, Squarespace, Bandzoogle and / or your web designer should be able to walk you through some of the basics. Many of the have SEO tools or plugins that will help guide the way. Your website needs to be tuned fairly often, and occasionally you might need to change the strings. SEO is one of the major tools you will used to do this. They may not be your favorite tasks, but without doing them, nothing works quite right. When your band gets big enough, you can hire someone to do this stuff for you, but for now, it’s time to learn the scales.

Below is a list of some of the top SEO research tools. Thanks to Ryland Bacorn and Rick Sanchez:

1. Search Engine Land - What's news in search: http://searchengineland.com/

2. Semrush - Find and learn about competitors: https://www.semrush.com/

3. Moz - Track your SEO progress: https://moz.com/

4. Screaming Frog - Crawl your site like a master: http://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/

5. Google Trends - Find what users look for on Google: https://www.google.com/trends/

6. Google Webmaster tools (now Search Console) - Track your Google data: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/

7. Google Analytics - Discover how your SEO is actually working: https://www.google.com/analytics/

8. Distilled University - Learn SEO: https://www.distilled.net/u/

9. lynda.com - Learn about SEO and Analytics: http://www.lynda.com/

SXSW - Come meet us at our panel "Modern SEO for Bands and Brands"

Kevin Cogill (Antiquiet and dotsquirells,) Ryland Bacorn (Yahoo), Raymond Flotat (mxdwn.com) with r2d2 getting prepared for SXSW.

Kevin Cogill (Antiquiet and dotsquirells,) Ryland Bacorn (Yahoo), Raymond Flotat (mxdwn.com) with r2d2 getting prepared for SXSW.



Our SXSW panel " Modern SEO for Bands and Brands" will be at SEO on Thursday, March 17. 5:00-6:00 in Room Room 10B of the convention center. 531 E 4th St.

Moderated byRaymond Flotat with Kevin Cogill, Ryland Bacorn, and Rick Sanchez of Post Haste Media, it should be an interesting discussion for anyone wanting to get more, higher quality visitors to their sites.

One of the things I've come to learn is how easy and effective it is to do some basic SEO and analytics on even the smallest of websites.
Whether you are an artist or band just getting started, an indie label, a music blogger, retailer or other small business; making sure you set up your website and create SEO friendly content is an absolute must if you want people to find you easily.

Stay tuned for a simple cheat sheet of tips, tricks and resources.

Also be sure to check out the Antiquiet show on Friday at the North Door.

 

A Little Record Plant History

Two weeks ago at the NAMM TEC Awards, the two men who gave me my first job in the world of recording were honored with a lifetime achievement award. Chris Stone and Gary Kellgren built the Record Plant (Click on the link above to watch the video).

It was a dream come true for a 21 year old kid from Lawrence, Kansas. The day I started work, I looked on the daily schedule and saw that the Eagles were in Studio C, Stevie Wonder was in Studio B and Dave Mason was in Studio A.

I ran into John Lennon and Keith Moon in the game room and we chatted about the Japanese Fighting fish in the salt water tank. I was screaming in my head that I was talking about fish with a Beatle and a Who member. Stevie Wonder would play air hockey...and win. Frank Zappa would drink coffee by the gallon and work till the sun came up. Al Kooper would keep us all in stitches laughing.

Chris and Gary also knew how to hire a great staff. From the runners to the assistant engineers to the technical staff, sales and accounting people...they looked for the best. Where they really shined were in their choices of studio managers.

Rose Mann, Michelle Zarin and Nina Bombardier all ran a tight ship, keeping us all scheduled, sane and healthy. At any given moment they handled daily crisis, minute details and big egos with grace and style. All of them were tough as nails, brilliant negotiators and psychologists and worked their asses off. They also shared their insights and knowledge and kicked our butts when we got out of hand. We all owe them a debt of gratitude.

Chris and Gary built a family AND a very successful business. It could be crazy and exhausting at times, infuriating at others, but it was exciting as hell.

There is one memory that really gave me my respect and gratitude to Chris and Gary. It had nothing to do with music or entertainment. It had to do with humanity.

My best friend from Kansas and I had always wanted to start a band in Los Angeles. He had just completed a world tour with Neil Sedaka, after never having traveled more than about 100 miles outside of our small town. When the tour was completed, I had been working at the Record Plant for about 2 months. He was staying in a small apartment with my sister and I and we were making big plans for the future. As it was, he had to go back to Kansas to pick up his stuff and move out to L.A. One night he flew out and the next morning I got a call that he had been killed with another young musician friend in an auto accident on the way back to Lawrence.

I was devastated...and broke. Apparently, someone at the studio, I assume it was either Rose or Michelle Zarin at that time, had heard about this and told me that Gary wanted to see me. I was nervous, as I had heard that he could be tough on the newbies if we messed up.

I found Gary in the hallway and he handed me an envelope saying that this was from Chris and him. It was a plane ticket to Kansas to attend Jody's memorial service. Chris told me to take the time I needed.

This gesture meant the world to me and I will always remember it.

Thank you Chris, Gary, Gloria, Marta, Devon & the Record Plant family. You're the best.

Olivia Harris Record Release

Olivia Harris Record Release - October 27, 2015

Olivia Harris just released her first single "Lonestar Heart". Olivia's first release is a tribute to her adolescence in Texas. The first of 6 songs on her upcoming LP was produced by musical director and multi-keyboardist Nick Milo. I recorded the vocals, Greg Adams horn and Liv Slingerland's impressive guitar parts as well as mixed the 6 tracks here at Post Haste Media. 

Olivia's impressive team of musical collaborators included Nick Milo on Keys, Jack Irons, Eric Valentine and Johnny Salerno on drums, Yogi Lonich and Liv Slingerland on guitars, Holland Grecco on Ukelele, Rodrigo Enrique Bustos on Bass and Greg Adams on Trumpet. Writing by Olivia Harris, Nick Milo and Rocky Maffit

Every other Tuesday starting November 10th, Olivia will release the other 5 songs on the EP, available on her own website and on iTunes. There is some exciting material from a very talented singer / songwriter so be sure to check them out and as always, support the music and artists you love by buying their music!

Stay tuned for more from Olivia, I think you'll be glad you did.

Good Bye BB King Thanks for a Lifetime of the Blues

It seems strange to say thanks for the blues, but the joy putting BB King's Live and Well gave me when I was a teenager was exactly that. A Joy. 

My family loved music and I grew up with everything from Puerto Rican love ballads to Andres Segovia to Broadway show tunes and gospel music of my parents. Then came the Beatles, Kinks, Stones, Hendrix and of course researching where this music came from.

My friends Karl Hoffman and Steve Wilson who worked at Keif's records in Lawrence Kansas started to educate me. They would bring over armloads of records, take off what I had playing and let the lessons fly.

BB King's Live and Well was one of the records they brought out after school one day. I could not get enough of that sweet sound. The way he bent notes. How he make me feel so much using so few notes. His phrasing, vibrato and note bending. Perfection. 

Why I Sing The Blues. A number of years later I had the opportunity to meet both the producer of that album Bill Szymczyk and more exciting, I got to record BB King in the studio. It was not one of his greatest performances, nor was it really the blues. It was a Budweiser Beer commercial in the style of the blues with BB King performing. It was still an honor to hit record and commit BB King's voice and guitar playing to tape.

This is the story.

Besides being one of the most influential and well known blues players in history, he was a wonderfully humble and nice man with a great sense of humor. I saw him perform multiple times, but one of the highlights of my early days as an engineer was to record BB King and his band in the studio.

No, it was not one of his many great records, but a Budweiser beer commercial. At the time, Bud’s ad agency out of St. Louis was using various recording artists to do their take on the “This Bud’s for You” theme. I did the Tubes version and BB King’s version.

We had 6 hours booked. The King’s big purple bus pulled up, the band got out. All of the amps and drums had been rented per the band’s spec and were ready to go. They walked right into the studio, shook everyone’s hand and got to work. He was all business.

They young ad team (I think there were six of them) obviously did not know much about either the blues or BB King other than probably an intern telling them that he had a guitar he called.
Lucille. They had the band play the song with BB just singing the lyrics which they had written out. The lyrics were wall to wall for the entire minute.

Then the lead producer said “Now BB, get Lucille and play some blues”. I cringed.
Mr. King picked up his guitar, plugged into the Fender Twin and I pressed record.
The song played for a minute and he did not play a note. The producer looked confused. “BB…ok. I want to hear Lucille sing” King looked up, nodded, then I pressed record. A minute later…nothing. The producer looked concerned. “One more time”. Nothing. Again he said “BB, you’re not playing…we need to hear Lucille”.

Mr. King looked up, the band shook their heads and replied, “I’m singing. BB King does not sing and play at the same time”. The rather dense producer said, “yes, but we have your vocal on tape already. I need you to play now. We need to hear Lucille”.

I realized that BB King was hearing his vocal in his headphones. Since the lyric basically just repeated through the whole minute, I asked if I could try something. The producer said “whatever…I just need that guitar on there”.

This time when I hit play, I let the vocal go for a short verse, then muted it. Immediately, Mr. King started to play. When the phrase finished I unmuted the vocal and he stopped playing. Another vocal phrase…then mute it and BB King started to play. Vocal…guitar…vocal…guitar.

The minute finished. BB King put down the guitar, smiled and said “That is the blues…now order us some lunch, you have what you need”.

We did. The King of the Blues had spoken.




 

Fair Trade Music

Free Trade and Fair Trade  are terms we often hear bandied about.  Sometimes they get lumped together as the same thing. They are not. Before we begin, let’s define the two terms.

Free Trade means unrestricted, uncontrolled access to an economy unburdened by tariffs and duties. In highly developed economies like the United States and much of Europe, this means that goods made in countries with very low labor costs have a distinct advantage over countries with higher wages.  In theory, all boats are raised. In practical reality it seems that working wages in the developed countries are forced to come down much faster than working wages in the non-developed countries move up. Free trade is most often controlled by government at the behest of multi-national corporations.

Fair Trade, on the other hand, focuses on the actual wages paid to the people doing the work. The goal of fair trade is to give more power to individuals and improve the quality of their lives as opposed to improving profits for a corporation or other large business entity. 

Most of us have heard about Fair Trade Coffee. The basic tenet of the fair trade coffee movement is to create a fair, equitable and ethical pricing structure from the farmer all the way to the end consumer of a delicious cup of coffee.

When it was found that coffee farmers were starving while coffee wholesalers and retailers were seeing record profits, Fair Trade Coffee organizations and activists began to spread the truth. This generated negative publicity for the large coffee importers and distributors. Exploiting poor workers was seen by consumers as unethical, cruel and greedy.  A company getting a Fair Trade Compliant certification meant that the coffee was meeting a fair and equitable standard all the way from the consumer to the grower and everyone in between. 

Consumers began to become aware that they could make a difference in the lives of people they would never have any interaction with. They wanted the people at the source to thrive just as much as they wanted to enjoy a good cup of coffee.

This fair labor and trade movement has grown over the years to include many things we consume from iPhones to clothing. We want to help the people at the beginning of the chain to prosper and are willing to both shame the companies who exploit workers and pay a slight bit more to monitor fairness.

One area where Fair Trade is just beginning to take root is in the creative arts. Everyone from writers of news to marketing to television to music could stand to benefit from fair trade. Content creators of all stripes could unite to make people aware that they also need to make a fair wage in order to provide the service to consumers.

Fair Trade Music is something we should all take a look at.  To add a personal note to this story, I’ve been blessed to make a modest, but decent living for almost 40 years because of the work of writers.  Songwriters, tv and film writers and copywriters have provided the foundation for the product I supply as a producer and sound engineer. I owe them a lot as do most of us who work in the business or who consume content on a daily basis. We want the best content possible at a fair price and we want the creators of this content to be able to feed their families just as we feed ours.


Take a few minutes and read about fair trade music and how YOU can help to make it a reality without having to resort to years of government bickering and competing lobbyists.

We as lovers, consumers and creators of music can make fair trade and wages a reality, but it takes getting off our butts and taking action. Spreading the word. Talking to people and getting aware of HOW we can make things better.

Let me know what you think can level the playing field for the people in the trenches.
 Thanks.

 

Navigating Rough Seas for Content Creators

Whether you are a copywriter, songwriter, session musician, recording engineer or content producer, times are tough.

Competition is fierce, streaming media and rapidly changing content delivery technology claim "we have no control" over what people put up, so getting paid for the content you create is now considered a quaint relic of the past. They tell us if you want to make money, you have to become a "brand" and that "we won't pay you, but it is great for exposure". Yeah? Tell that to your bill collector.

Sounds horrible right? Maybe...maybe not. Content creators have faced obstacles for many hundreds of years. The great thing about creative people is that we are good at solving problems and we find a way to survive. If we are lucky and work hard enough, we can even thrive. To navigate these rough waters takes some experience, some, trial and error, some fresh ideas or old ideas looked at in a different way and some hard work.

Over the next few months, I want to share some ideas from some very smart people. Some of them sound crazy. Some of them are common sense. All of them take people like us working every day to bring these ideas to life and to spread the word.

Post Haste Media supports creatives of all stripes and we want to help make sure the best of us don't get discouraged and have the opportunities that we have had.

Check back soon and share your ideas with us.