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Kiwanuka

 

Saw the amazing Michael Kiwanuka a couple weekends ago. It was sublime. He had announced his tour early 2016, and I bought tickets many months in advance for his Dec 2016 show. Unfortunately, he had to cancel due to tonsillitis and reschedule for May 2017. I missed the onsale day the second time around, and he sold out quickly at the Fillmore in San Francisco. His awesome song Cold Little Heart became the opening of the HBO series Big Little Lies between the time I bought tickets initially and the rescheduled onsale. He has been selling out ever since. Luckily, my friend Gurj Bassi helped us out by getting Nazlee and I two passes courtesy of Universal Music for Michael Kiwanuka’s show. He’s another one to watch as his music is timeless. His 2016 album Love And Hate was my 2016 album of the year. Despite my not blogging about it or shouting on the rooftops about him, I took every opportunity to let people know how much I loved and appreciated his music.

Here’s Father’s Child, one of my favorite Michael Kiwanuka songs live via BBC Radio 6. Enjoy.

Mad Respect.

 

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Today Pandora is launching a brand new version of the Artist Marketing Platform (AMP). The original version of AMP launched in October of 2014 and was a great first step in enabling artists and labels to get insights into how their music was performing in Pandora. As it evolved, new marketing features like artist audio messages were added along with the ability to promote new singles to a wider audience. The new version launching today has been rebuilt from the ground up with a new codebase and gorgeous new design. Check out the video to see what it’s all about.


When I first joined Pandora in June of 2015, I was most excited by the possibilities of AMP and what it will mean for artists at every level and stage in their career. Today’s new AMP represents a great team effort in rethinking what a marketing platform needs to do to address the number one challenge for artists: promoting music to fans in a sea of noise and making money. This is fundamentally a marketing problem, and AMP solves it by helping artists create campaigns that let them promote whatever is important to them including a new single or album, a show, a tour, merch, a cause, or literally anything an artist cares about.

When setting out to reimagine AMP, we wanted to help artists execute a marketing campaign as simply as possible and also accommodate the complexity of involved campaigns that span multiple objectives and touch-points. For example, a campaign to promote a new single can be comprised of two different integrated campaigns: a Featured Track campaign to push the single to a wider audience and an Artist Audio Message campaign that lets the artist speak in their own voice about that new track. Both those campaigns live within the main campaign to promote a new single.

Similarly a campaign to promote a fall tour across 20 cities can include different artist audio messages each geo-targeted and customized to the different cities of the tour. Each message has a unique link to buy tickets at each venue. All of those 20 artist messages with different links to buy tickets would live in one main campaign called something like ‘Fall Tour 2016.’ This nested structure gives artists a lot of power to manage integrated campaigns in a simple yet powerful way. The new AMP is built for the future and is architected in a way that will let us add new campaign types in the coming months to help artists premiere new albums, book shows at Ticketfly venues, or participate in an ever growing list of promotional opportunities on Pandora. 

Another important new part of AMP is the activity feed. It alerts artists to how their campaigns are doing and helps them take further action quickly.  They can improve and optimize the campaigns or double-down and share them further. These notifications reduce the complexity and guesswork out of marketing, while making AMP more intuitive and instructive.

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The activity feed also lets artists know that they have a newly ingested track to promote via an Artist Audio Message and Featured Track campaign or a new event listed within our Ticketfly network of promoters and venues. Simply clicking on these alerts will pre-populate the information so artists and their teams can quickly set the campaigns up and go live with a few clicks.

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-9-30-19-pmWhen you combine these new promotional capabilities with the the scale of Pandora’s base of 80M uniqued listeners a month, you get the most powerful artist marketing platform on the planet. As artists use AMP to promote whatever they wish, the engagement rates and click-throughs are literally off the charts and well above 10x what you would see on the social networks, paid marketing channels, or other music services. This is mainly because people are on Pandora to listen to music and welcome the connection that AMP gives from their favorite artists.

Check out the AMP Playbook for more info and best practices on the new AMP. Today also represents the general availability of our AMPcast product that puts the power of artist audio messages into the hands of all artists on Pandora via their mobile phone. If you’re an artist or label on Pandora go check out the new AMP and get on AMPcast here.

 

 

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One of the best things about my job at Pandora is working closely with my incredible colleagues who happen to make great music. Adam Zabarsky on our Music Maker product team and Chris Dunn leading our advertising engineering team produced a great body of work in StoneDog. I’ve been listening to it at home and in the Pandora office. The album has variety yet definitely has a distinct sound and feel.

I work every day with Adam on our Music Maker products including AMP and AMPcast, and Chris and I sit 10 feet from each other in the office. The personal relationship I have to them both is a significant part of the connection I have with their music. It opens me up in different ways than if I didn’t know them personally. This added dimension to the relationship I have with their music deepens my connection to it. A deeper connection to good music can only mean a happier Shamal. So this is definitely something worth shouting about. Listen to StoneDog now and enjoy. Sailaway is my current favorite and reminds me of a Phish song. I love the bluesy, soulful Illiterate and play it all the time for the awesome lyrics (‘I must be illiterate, cause I can’t read you girl/My hearts an open book, baby take a look’). Au Revoir feels like a good song to sing along to at a Jimmy Buffet concert, and Lipgloss is for all the Cars fans. Enjoy.

David Starfire sent me his latest album, and I’m digging it on a rainy Sunday afternoon. It’s been raining in the Bay area for more than a week, and everything is dismal. My family of four with a three-week old newborn is sick. It sucks when all of us are ill. It’s like the walking dead and grumpy. Thank god I have some good music to bring me back to life and shine happiness on us all. David’s sound has exotic themes and sounds with a cutting edge break keep me jazzed and piqued. It cleared up my sinuses too. Check it out below.

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It’s a good day for artists on Pandora. Today, my Music Maker team at Pandora released an exciting new product called AMPcast where artists can record a message on their mobile phone and send it through their Pandora app directly to their fans. AMPcast is part of the Artist Marketing Platform (AMP) that our awesome team manages at Pandora.

AMPcast lets artists craft more spontaneous, timely, and fun messages. They can attach an image from their phone to their audio message and place it before or after a specific song if they choose. One of the coolest things about this feature is the personal context that artists are giving to their music. Hearing the story and meaning of their songs in their own voice makes me appreciate their music more.

Artists can also use AMPcast to easily promote whatever is important to them. Each message can have a CTA link to click through to a tour announcement, a specific show, a new release, a boxed set, a friend’s creative project, a personal/social/political cause, or just about anything they care about. Since these messages are authentic and coming directly from the artists, it doesn’t feel like an interruption or an ad, but rather an enhancement to the way I’m connecting to the artists’ music. The fan engagement of AMPcast artist messages are also off the charts – orders of magnitude on a completely different level than an ad with click-throughs as high as 18% for new music releases and close to 10% on tours and show announcements. See the press-release for more details. As artists capture their fans genuine interest with these messages, they will be able to materially impact their bottom line with this level of fan interest.

AMPcast is groundbreaking and unique to Pandora. It’s particularly exciting given the massive number of artist-to-fan connections in Pandora. There have been over 65 Billion Thumbs on songs from Pandora listeners to date, and each one is a preference statement that lets us target the right artist message to the most interested fan. More than 100M active listeners tune into their favorite stations on Pandora every quarter and most of them are in the US. What better time to speak to a fan than when they’re listening to your music? It’s all about intent and context. Given the magnitude of Pandora’s audience, it’s no exaggeration to say that we’re building the most powerful Artist Marketing Platform on the planet, and there’s much more to come.

Check out the video here for AMPcast below, and if you’re interested in trying it out when the Beta is more widely available, sign up here.


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