Bob & Lorie Gray
Bobsongs Creative Media

Music…

Musicians, Songwriters & Branding…

Had a conversation with a musician the other day.  He said to me that he didn’t need to establish a brand, he just used his name.

“So” I said, “You’ve got your name reserved, for your website domain?”

Well… no.  Someone else has that domain reserved.

“But then surely, on your Facebook page…”

Uh, no… I haven’t got around to securing my name as a Facebook nickname, yet.

“Twitter…. ???”

Well, I don’t get Twitter, so I haven’t secured the name…

“Are there any other social media or business networks that someone can find you on ?”

Oh, yeah… I’m on MySpace, YouTube and LinkedIn.

“What name did you use on those ???”

Oh, they’re all different.

*Stunned silence*

 

Make a name for yourself:

The guy is a great songwriter, and an amazing musician… but not surprisingly, not too many folks have heard of him… because he has a different name, everywhere you look.

One of my teachers used to say, “Whatever you do, try to create a name for yourself.”

A NAME.

Singular.

Not a string of names and clever acronyms that no one but you will understand.

I am my brand.

I am BobSongs.

BobSongs - Business Card

On my Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook… even, so help me… Flickr… (you know I’m not a photographer, right ???) …I am BobSongs.

I have as many variations of BobSongs and Bob Gray web domains sewn up, as are available.

The ones that weren’t available, I keep a list of, and check every few months to see if any of them have become available.

 

Patrol the Brands you are associated with:

Google Alerts is great for this.

If anything “hits” the web with Bob Gray, BobSongs, or any of a few other keywords I target… I get a weekly update, e-mailed to me.

Usually it is information about other BobSongs/Bob Gray’s, or tracking something from my Twitter feed or Blog…. but every once in a while it is something I want to see, or at least be aware of.  Pennywise the Clown, from the Stephen King novel “It”, was one Bob Gray.  Another Bob Gray that pops up from time to time is the professional speaker, who talks about how to expand your memory.  There are lots of others.  But if someone is saying something about my Brand… I want to know it.

 

Be constant, and consistent:

I’m a bad example here, and am currently unable to follow my own rule, because TOO many of my Blog posts are NOT associated with the music and songwriting of the BobSongs Brand.  The reason for this is that I haven’t yet found an alternate Brand that I am comfortable with, that is available as a domain, and on Twitter.  As soon as I do… Whoosh… my non-music content will be transferred from this Blog, to the new site.

On Social Media, I try to break down the conversations by category… so I have lists for Hockey Fans, Scotch Drinkers, Musicians, etc… as, many times, the groups with similar interests tend to talk about the same things.  If I do a LOT of chatting about a subject, I would consider having a separate account for that “voice.”  In my case, with my passion for all things Vancouver Canucks, I created the NucksBob Twitter account, to stop from ticking off my “other” Twitter followers, and so I can focus my tweets, in that account.

 

You don’t have to do any of this stuff.

Just like you don’t have to get gigs… be successful… sell your CD’s…

You don’t have to.

But by establishing and maintaining a consistent Brand, you make it easier for people to find and support you, and it makes it that much easier, when you find success, to further establish your Brand, and broaden your support base.

Twitter and Musicians – V 3.0

A Songwriter friend asked the other day, about Twitter.

I referred her to my last post on the subject, which talked about things like filling in your Bio, your picture, your website… some of the basic Basics.

I also wrote a post about Musicians protecting their Tweets, which is STILL one of the most stupid things I’ve seen.

But in the months since the last post, there are still a lot of folks who don’t “get” Twitter.

So, to them:

 

The Twitter Cocktail Party

Twitter is about engaging, and having conversations.

Twitter is very like a cocktail party… If there are 200 people in a room, I don’t talk to all of them at once.  I drift around the room, and chat with someone here about Hockey… over there I talk to someone about their Mom… another I talk to about songwriting… another I just trade jokes with.  I join in where I feel I can participate, and when the conversation is not interesting to me, I drift elsewhere.

I have over 1600 folks following me, and I follow about the same number back.  I do not feel I have to be involved in every tweet from every one of them.  But, I DO feel that I can join into a conversation when it strikes a chord with me… and those folks can either engage me back, or ignore it, if they don’t care for my comments.  (I tend to try for funny, and what is funny to me, is not to everyone.)

I also use LISTS to help me break down my Tweeps into smaller, more manageable (although sometimes overlapping) groups.  So, for instance, I have a group for Music folks, Pitt Meadows/Maple Ridge folks (my home town), Hockey fans, Bloggers, Fraser Valley folks, Vancouver Island folks, and so on.  Often folks grouped regionally will chat more, so it makes it easier to follow a conversation, if you can see both sides of what folks are saying.

 

Hashtags (#)

Hashtags are great for finding interests.  Hashtags (the number sign, if you will) are used in Twitter to denote a searchable field.  So, if I’m Tweeting about a Songwriters’ Showcase in Langley, I would perhaps Tweet: #Songwriter #Showcase tonight in #Langley at McBurney Lane – 20405 Fraser Hwy. 7:30-9:30 pm

In the above example, someone could search Twitter and “find” my tweet using any of the words preceded by a hashtag.

 

The Interface  (aka: What Software I Use To  Tweet)

Stop using the Online Twitter interface.  NOW.  Immediately!

TweetDeck

I like TweetDeck, some folks prefer HootSuite.  There are tons of other apps out there, as well… and almost ALL of them are free to download.

But you need to start using a Twitter interface (software, app… call it whatever you want) that will allow you to see multiple columns at a time.

So, for instance, at the VERY minimum, you need to have columns so you can see…

All Friends / Mentions / Direct Messages / New Followers

… ALL at the same time.  (See the image above)  It just makes it easier to converse, and listen to or be part of, a few different conversations at the same time.

You can also add a column for any Lists you make, or for a Hashtag search.  (ie: #Songwriter #Langley #Hockey #Canucks)


Bait and Switchers

Bait and Switchers (my name for them) are folks who either don’t do enough research before following someone, or are trying to boost their follower numbers.

Many time, someone from the other side of North America follows you out of the blue, and you shake your head, think “random” but they look okay, and you follow them back.  They frequently use an auto DM to thank you for following them, and saying how much they look forward to reading your tweets and engaging with you… and a few weeks later, you run an assessment program like TweetKarma, and they have unfollowed you.

No biggy… their loss.  Unfollowed !

 

The Hard Sell

A lot of us on Twitter have a purpose.  I use Twitter to promote my Blog, to support my musician friends who have gigs, and to support and promote businesses and Charities I believe in.

But if you look at my Tweets from when I’m writing this, I also tweeted about:

– a suggestion for a Tweeps’ Daughter’s Hockey Jersey Number… (7 for Cliff Ronning.)

– Had a conversation about the Tooth Fairy being reachable through Social Media (only MySpace, ‘cuz she has a side gig, playing in a band)

– Made a couple of suggestions of how folks can get help from Shaw Cable (No, I don’t work there)

– Commiserated with a tweep over a weekend lost to bad colds

– Dancing with the Stars (yeah, it’s a guilty pleasure)

Some of these were direct comments made to a specific person… (an @ message)

Others were just tweets that people responded to.

My point is, that most folks won’t follow you, or will unfollow you if you have a succession of tweets saying:

– Buy my stuff.

– I have good stuff.

– have you looked at my stuff ? It’s unbelieveable stuff.

And that is ALL you talk about.  Nobody likes someone trying to shill (sell) something at a Cocktail party, so don’t do that.

However, it IS okay to, every once in a while, say I found this really cool thing.  If you’re interested, here is the link.

Nobody wants to read or hear hard sell, all the time… so you have to mix it up, and beware “over-selling.”

It is a good idea (at least in the beginning) to go back, every once in a while, and read your own tweets, to make sure you are “mixing it up, enough”

 

Okay, I’m chatty, and social, but it isn’t happening for me…

I had this asked of me, and so, when I checked… that person was following 21 people, and only 9 had followed back.

As the person asking was a Songwriter/Performer, I suggested she look at folks like: @RachaelPachel @Leighmusic @one_more_girl @blakehavard @ThornyBleeder and see what they are doing, and how they developed and kept their following.  There are a lot of local musicians on Twitter.  Not many are using it well… and these folks are using it well, and making the most of it !

Celebrities generally will not follow you back, or engage with us “run of the mill” tweeps… so if you are on Twitter to have conversations with Lady Gaga and John Mayer… good luck.  They Tweet, but don’t listen.  Find and follow LOCAL people with interests similar to yours.  Until you’ve made a name for yourself, you cannot adopt the “I’m just gonna Tweet, and people will listen” mentality.

Again, using the Cocktail Party analogy:  It is like you got an invite to the Party, but instead of getting out and mingling, you are standing in the coat closet, saying “Twitter isn’t working for me” and “this is dumb”

In order to have a conversation, and engage with people, you have to venture outside your famnily and friends.  They ALREADY know you’re a songwriter/musician/performer… and it is written into their contract that they have to say supportive things, and come out to your gigs.  We’ve already established that Celebrities don’t care about you.  Find a hundred people that you’ve looked at their Bio’s… looked at what they are tweeting about… and think you could (in the cocktail party scenario) see yourself having a conversation with.

Plus, you have to think about the Percentage.  Remember that everybody, (just like you) have lives and other stuff, so out of that 100, maybe 15% is online at any given time. (depending on time of day, and day of the week, etc… the percentage will fluctuate.)

So, you see, the 1600 doesn’t loom so large, when you take that percentage into account.

 

Number Players

There is a certain “type” of Tweep who doesn’t care about content.  I’ve talked about going, and looking at Bio’s… Reading the Timeline (their tweets)… investing some time to try to make sure your base is constructed of quality people.  It is easy to add quantities of followers.  It is WAAAAY harder to add quality followers.

If you want a gazillion followers, who won’t interact, and will do nothing but clog your Twitter Feed with spam ?  There are programs and MLM networks that will do that for you.  But those folks aren’t at a cocktail party… they’re at a sales conference… and just parrot over and over, whatever the head guy says.

Build your base carefully.

A good way is to find someone you like and respect, and see who THEY are following…

There is something called Follow Friday, which on Twitter is denoted with the hashtag #FF or #FollowFriday. It is something that some folks do on Fridays, to highlight the tweeps that they think others should be following, because they find their tweets to be of value.

 

Branching out

The other thing to consider, AFTER you get your feet wet,  and have expanded your base, is whether you have a series of conversations that tend to be topical, with the same group of people.  For example, with me, it was Hockey.

Last year, I had a few comments, and a fair number of UNFOLLOWS happen, after Canucks Hockey games.  I would tweets and discuss the ebb and flow of the games with other rabid Hockey fans.  But some of the folks who DON’T follow Hockey, made comments about it, and (in a generally kind way) let me know that I was “polluting” their twitter streams.

So, I created @NucksBob… my Hockey ONLY account.  When someone follows me at @NucksBob, I look at their profile,a nd their tweets, and if they seem to have nothing to do with Hockey, I send them a kindly Direct Message: Hard to tell from ur Bio, but I’m guessing you are not a Hockey fan. You might want to try @BobSongs.  This account is only about NHL Hockey, sorry!

But… get your feet wet with one account first !

 

Hope this helps, and I hope more singer/songwriter types will get “better” at Twitter.  It is a great place to meet and talk to people !!!

One of the Most Beautiful Songs Ever Written…

On Saturday night, I was feeling a bit melancholy.

As I have written before, September is the time of year where I tend to assess my year’s progress.

It comes from years of being at school, and years and years of running a store at the University of British Columbia.

So, when the lyrics to this song came into my head, I tweeted them, and as I got responses, I knew I had to write about it.

The Tweet was:

“There’s not a word yet for old friends who just met… Close to my soul & yet so far away. I hope I go back there, someday” Great Gonzo #quote

I believe it is one of the most wistful, evocative and beautifully written lyrics, that I’ve ever encountered.

Despite being performed by puppets, the voice acting and wistful tone of Dave Goelz’s voice (the actor who plays the Great Gonzo) is for me, the highlight of The Muppet Movie. (The 1979 movie from which this song originates.)

The song was written by Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher.

The lyrics are:

This looks familiar, vaguely familiar,
Almost unreal, yet, it’s too soon to feel yet.
Close to my soul, and yet so far away.
I’m going to go back there someday.

Sun rises, night falls, sometimes the sky calls.
Is that a song there, and do I belong there?
I’ve never been there, but I know the way.
I’m going to go back there someday.

Come and go with me, it’s more fun to share,
We’ll both be completely at home in midair.
We’re flyin’, not walkin’, on featherless wings.
We can hold onto love like invisible strings.

There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met.
Part heaven, part space, or have I found my place?
You can just visit, but I plan to stay.
I’m going to go back there someday.
I’m going to go back there someday.

There you have it, one of the most beautiful songs ever written.

For anyone in transition, or reviewing the moments… this is, I believe, the perfect song.

And, whether performed by a blue guy with a hook beak… or by a human… worthy of pulling out of the closet, and itself, reviewing.

Hope you enjoyed it !

What songs take YOU to a different place ?

Talented Songwriters…

I have a pinched nerve in my shoulder right now, which seems particularly painful at night time.

This is why, at 2:51 am in the morning, I’m sitting here, writing about the talented songwriters I’ve been lucky to cross paths with:

  • Sam & Luke just came back from Nashville, as I recently wrote in a Blog Post.  Their new album isn’t out yet, but I was lucky to have been given the opportunity to have a listen to the un-mastered mix, and it is awesome !!!  In the meantime, check out some of their YouTube videos.  Yes, I keep talking about these guys, and I will still be talking about them in a lot of years… They’re THAT good !!!

 

  • Britt Bonshor was at the BC Songwriters’ Showcase tonight, and had finally remembered to bring her CD’s with her.  It’s called Seven, and has seven songs for seven bucks.  Her voice is very pure and clear.  In my head, she sounds like a female Vince Gill, and I mean that as an incredible compliment, because I think he has one of the best voices in Country.  I can’t think of a female artist to describe or compare her to, so I will direct you to her YouTube page, where there are a lot of excellent examples of her singing her own songs, and covers.

 

  • Delaney Rose also performed tonight, and I hadn’t heard her in a few months.  She has a great gift for connecting with her emotions, and being able to communicate that through her songs, and in her performances.    

 

  • Earl Taylor was the host/MC for this evenings’ Showcase, and I would be remiss to not mention his songs, which he doesn’t have NEARLY enough recorded…  (hint hint) …but has two YouTube videos that I love and have blogged about:  I Miss My Mom, as well as a webpage.

 

There are lots of other talented folks who come to the weekly Wednesday showcases, some of whom might have CD’s or websites… that I’m not aware of.  But I would heartily recommend that you check out the talented folks I’ve named… either at one of our BC Songwriter Showcases, or on the web !!!

BC Songwriters Showcase Assn.

 

Buy their CD’s, and get them to sign it !!!

You’ll have a heck of a story, once they are famous, and great music in the meantime !

Sam and Luke return from Nashville…

Frequent readers will know that I am a fan of Sam & Luke.

New readers need to know that they are two teenage brothers who formed a band, write their own songs, are self taught, and are stunningly amazingly good artists.

They just got back from Nashville, where they recorded their second album, but the first that wasn’t self-produced.

Renown Producer Colin Linden oversaw the production, writing and recording sessions.

Colin Linden with Sam & Luke

Sam and Luke have posted a couple of Videos:

The first is a 90 second video clip of “Black Magic Woman,” from one of the last gigs they played before heading to Nashville.  Please check it out !!!

The second is a video of one of their Nashville sessions, featuring “So Perfect,” one of the songs from their new album.

(Incidentally, the new album is not out yet, and I’ll post updates as I get them… last I heard the album is going to be mastered in New York in a few weeks, and should hopefully be available in August.)

The line for CD’s starts behind me !!!

Father’s Day Reflections…

I’ve never been able to write songs about stuff that happens to me in my life.

So, because of this, I must draw on the reflections of a friend, Earl Travis Taylor, who also wrote I Miss My Mom

He wrote the song “A Cowboy Never Dies” for his Dad, (who passed away in 1998 and was also named Earl Taylor,) and his Uncle Jerry, who was a man of similar character.

So, on this Father’s Day weekend…  For all the folks who are missing their Dads…

(Whether he ever rode a horse, or not)

A Cowboy Never Dies

“He’s out there riding fences, somewhere on the Range.

With a whistle in the wind, that tells me he’s all right.

And a Cowboy never dies.”

A Cowboy Never Dies

[ca_audio url=”http://blog.bobsongs.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/01-cowboys-song.mp3″ width=”500″ height=”27″ css_class=”codeart-google-mp3-player”]

Happy Father’s Day to every Dad out there, whether riding Fences or celebrating with the kids…

Dad Gray at Christmas, a few years back...

Dad Gray at Christmas, a few years back…