Hisham Dahud

Hisham Dahud is an independent music business professional and musician based in San Francisco.

Hisham is the Project Manager and head of Business Development for Fame House, LLC - an artists and labels services company focused on Digital Strategy, Marketing and Management for the entertainment industry. Fame House's clientele include DJ Shadow, Pretty Lights, David Lynch, Stella Artois, Josh Wink, and more.

Hisham is also a music industry journalist with regular contributions to Hypebot.com - a leading music industry news and technology blog where he discusses digital marketing strategies, new music technologies, and provides commentary on the continually evolving music space. Hisham also contributes writings to Billboard.biz, SOL REPUBLIC, and is presently the U.S. editor for the Music Producers Forum out of Copenhagen, Denmark.

At the core of everything, Hisham is a lifelong musician and lover of all things music. While his artistic fluency rests behind a drum kit, he is also a multi-instrumentalist music producer spanning into multiple genres of music while working with a dedicated team of musicians, producers, and engineers.

People Who Share Music Are 5X More Likely To Buy

According to Reuters (and by Apple’s own admission), only 3 percent of the music stored in the average iTunes user’s digital library was purchased from the Apple music store. The rest came from ripped CDs or was downloaded from peer-to-peer services or elsewhere.

However, users of the mobile music app Music With Me, an app that facilitates music discovery through social sharing, have been shown to possess nearly five times the amount of digital download purchases.

“Social sharing leads to music discovery and music discovery leads to more digital music being purchased,” says Michelle Jones, Music With Me’s Community Manager.

When music is shared socially (online or offline), a common bond is formed between those that shared it, which in turn gives each person one with the artist.

This is because the music now stands for something greater than the art presented in front of them. It now represents their bond as individuals, as like-minded music lovers.

These sorts of bonds are beneficial for long-term fan retention, which generally results in long-term music sales over time – whether it be through digital downloads, concert tickets, or merchandise sales.

Musicians should encourage the social sharing of their music in every form they can think possible. Tweet-for-download campaigns, which requires fans to tweet about the content they’re about to be downloading (before being granted a download code), are just one example of the ways artists should be utilizing fan-based promotion strategies.

The more you can empower your fans to be a part of you and your music, the deeper the bonds you create with them become, thus increasing their desire to share your music with their peers.  

After all, sharing is caring…

Much more than an incredible rapper and entertainer, Tupac Shakur advocated political, economic, social and racial equality; often using his music as a medium to depict raw descriptions of his life experience with violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and conflicts with the law. 

Today would have been his 40th birthday. 

R.I.P.

How to Get Your Music Into Video Games

 

The National Association of Recording Industry Professionals (NARIP) held a professional’s panel in downtown San Francisco last Wednesday where top minds in the video game industry discussed ways that independent musicians could increase their chances of getting their music placed into video games.

The worldwide video game industry is poised to exceed $70 billion by 2015, thanks to the combined growth of console, portable, PC, and online video games, according to market researcher DFC Intelligence. As the industry grows, the opportunity for musicians to have their music licensed becomes increasingly more competitive.

Follow these tips to increase your chances of landing a placement:

Do Your Homework

Sony Computer Entertainment of America (SCEA) Music Director Chuck Doudrecommends learning everything you can about the video game industry before knocking on the doors of supervisors.

“Find out what they need and what they’re looking for,” Doud said. “Seek out the developers who are doing the types of games that would be a good fit for your music. Think of the developers first, and don’t take the ‘hire me’ approach – you won’t get anywhere.”

SCEA Music Supervisor Matt Levine concurs: “Once we have a sense for how the game will shape out artistically, we’ll then set a list of potential candidates. We all talk to each other and we’ll ask around. We don’t hold any favoritism towards the indies nor the majors. The bottom line is this: if you’re good, and you have the sound we’re looking for, your chances of a placement increase.”

Note: Gamasutra.com and GameIndustry.biz are excellent resources for staying up to date on the business end of video games!

Start Small

Former Director of Music Relations for Electronic Arts/EA Sports, and current CEO of Eckhardt Consulting Randy Eckhardt:

“Don’t bother trying to meet with top-level people right away,” he suggests. “Seek out smaller developers first, as it certainly helps to show that you’ve had placement before. The current expansion into online social games that are using not as rich and deep content has expanded opportunities to score smaller games.”

2011 is predicted to be the year when mobile social games see a significant increase. Interestingly enough, the 2nd most highly valued company in the video game industry today is not just social, but also only four years old (Zynga - makers of FarmVille). 

“The emergence of casual games is huge,” added Chuck Doud. “There are more developers popping up and therefore many more contacts for independents to approach.”

Make Their Job Easier

Music supervisors and licensors are flooded with hundreds of submissions on a daily basis, and there are only so many hours in a day. To increase your chances of being heard, make it easy for them to access and listen to your music.

“I’d much rather stream tracks,” said Matt Levine. “I’d rather not download anything. I’m also more likely to listen to your music if your website is clean and very clear.”

“Don’t be sending out demos,” Chuck Doud suggests. “Send us your highest quality work that’s ready to be licensed. Also, make sure you distinguish who owns what before submitting a track. All paperwork should be in place and your tracks should be ready to be licensed tomorrow if they had to be.”

Remember to Be of Service

The role of your music is to enhance the gamer’s experience while they interact with the art on screen; it’s not supposed to take center stage. The more your intention lay in assisting the overall artistic vision of the project, and not so much on just landing a placement, the more likely music supervisors will want to work with you.

Getting your music in video games should be just one part of your strategy as a musician. While it can certainly lead to generous returns for larger-scale projects, it should ultimately be part of the marketing plan and not the primary desired source of income. With that, the more front-end research you do, the more rapport you build up, and the easier you make it on the people behind the scenes, the more likely you’ll earn a placement.

For more information on the National Association of Recording Industry Professionals, head to NARIP.com

This arrived in my Facebook inbox. 
Professional Pet Peeve #1: Sloppy attempts in reaching out to potential allies. 

This arrived in my Facebook inbox. 

Professional Pet Peeve #1: Sloppy attempts in reaching out to potential allies. 

Don’t Let Your Talent Get in the Way of Your Success

If you cannot be teachable, having talent won’t help you. 

If you cannot be flexible, having a goal won’t help you.

If you cannot be grateful, having abundance won’t help you.

If you cannot be mentorable, having a future won’t help you.

If you cannot be durable, having a plan won’t help you.

If you cannot be reachable, having success won’t help you.

-J. Konrad Hole

John C. Maxwell states in his book Talent is Never Enough:

"One of the paradoxes of life is that the things that initially make you successful are rarely the things that keep you successful. It’s important to remain open to new ideas and be willing to learn new skills.”

Higher IQ = Gifted?

INTERESTING FACT: IQ scores are often viewed as inadequate measures of giftedness. Motivation, high self-concept, and creativity are key qualities in many of the broadened conceptions of giftedness.

What Do College Degrees Even Mean Anymore?

Being a college student is tough. Being a college student trying to make moves in the music industry, or in any industry for that matter, is even tougher.

It’s like living in two completely different worlds - one full of excitement and uncertainty about where the next opportunity is going to come from, and the other dull and blasé from repeated exposure to often times boring topics in an un-engaging environment bombarded by budget cuts and overcrowded classrooms.

Undying self-motivation tops the list of the required traits for working in this field and most academic environments don’t do much to fuel that drive - in fact they often hinder it.

Sitting in classrooms for hours at a time several days a week and learning about graphs and spreadsheets isn’t very motivating - or useful for that matter. It’s no wonder why many of the world’s most successful people were college dropouts… it all moves too slowly!

But I’m a walking contradiction. As much as I don’t believe in the college degree being the golden ticket to a good job and future, I remain in college.

Why?

Validation. For most college students (including myself), the real job is getting one - and then keeping it. Even though most people will agree that the majority of skills needed to work a job are learned on site, many employers still want to see that you’ve completed a list of requirements set forth by an institution that awarded you a college degree.

It pretty much boils down to this: If I can make it through college, I’m pretty sure I can handle whatever workload you or your company may require of me.

College is great place for anyone to learn broad information about varying topics. It isn’t so great for young adults like myself to prepare for the realities of the real world and today’s job market. 

My most influential college professor (and good friend) Gian Fiero said it best in one of his blog posts:

“When it comes to college degrees and what they really mean, we should be concerned with the following: a) are the degreed holders, degreed thinkers? And b) how can we better help the degree holder with assistance in using the knowledge which allegedly accompanies the degree, and applying it?”

Something to think about…

"If a Studio Doesn’t Fly a Flag, They’re Dead."

It goes without saying that today’s music space is hypercompetitive - mainly as a result from the near zero barriers to entry. Virtually anyone can record an album, distribute, tour, and sell product directly to fans. 

“I don’t think there’s anything negative about that,” says John Vanderslice, founder of Tiny Telephone, a professional recording studio in San Francisco.

“It’s like saying you miss the old days of the Republic when only the landholders could vote – pure democracy is better. However, I do believe that it’s much harder to earn a lower-middle-class living in music these days, and that’s based purely on competition.”

Back when a recording contract was the Holy Grail to stardom, part of that deal was an elaborate recording budget that spanned anywhere from $100,000-$300,000+ to record an album. 

But as consumer-grade recording technology becomes more powerful and more affordable, amateur musicians can produce sounds on par with what a high-priced studio would just a few years ago – all from the comfort of their bedroom. 

Caught between a troubled recording industry and rapidly developing technology, are professional recording studios in danger of becoming obsolete?

“If a studio doesn’t fly a flag, they’re dead,” says Vanderslice. “They cannot just be one of the 4,000 ProTools studios in a six-mile radius; no one cares.”

He advises studios to establish a recognizable and editorial position in their approach to the recording process to avoid directly competing with everyone else. Vanderslice and his Tiny Telephone studio carry a “flag” that represents their undying devotion to analog recording. 

“Personally, I have an ethical and philosophical responsibility to keep tape machines functioning as they were when they were manufactured,” he says. “The medium is the message. Music content sounds different on analog tape.”

While many musicians may have the necessary tools to record music, professional recording studios continue to offer one invaluable resource to that cannot be purchased from any store or catalog, and that’s experience.

“I would say that cheap digital recording is a net gain, but as a guy who owns a studio and charges a lot of money, I have to advise clients of what sounds better than something else. That’s why they’re coming to a studio. It really matters because it adds up to a completely different experience.”

Digital recording technology may certainly be a step forward musicians and even for music itself, but speaking as a musician who’s recorded in a professional studio before, there’s something truly unique about working in a professional recording environment. 

Your mindset is completely different. You’re allowed to fully immerse yourself in your art by handing over all the logistics of the recordings process to experienced engineers. That sort of freedom, along with having an experienced (and unbiased) ear with you during the recording process is worth the price of admission alone. 

The studio has long been known to be the place where “the magic happens.” But in order to survive in today’s music space, studios need differentiate themselves by offering a piece of magic to their clients that only they can provide.

Don’t you hate it when…

Don’t you hate it when you begin eating something that you thought would taste great, but doesn’t right away; so you continue eating in search of that “sweet spot” where it’ll begin to taste good, but never quite shows up; and then soon you realize you’ve eaten far too much food - and it wasn’t even worth it?

Ugh…

10 Strategies To Engage Fans Through Social Media

By now, it’s well known that engaging fans through social media plays a large part in how music artists build and maintain relationships with their audience.

But for many artists, social media remains something they choose not to fully delve into. Some find it too overwhelming; with the constant posting of content onto the countless platforms and would much rather spend their time creating music.

Others may even be ready to actively engage in social media, but have no idea how to properly utilize each platform. 

Nancy Baym, a professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas recently wrote a fantastic piece entitled “Engaging Fans Through Social Media.”

In it, she explains how musicians and audiences can build symbiotic relationshipsthat can nurture and sustain one another over the long haul. 

The following 10 points summarize Baym’s key ideas on how to maximize your social media effectiveness:

1. Maintain Your Own Domain Name.

Before making your presence felt on any of the social media platforms, consider having your own website up and running first.

"Even though you can’t expect fans to cluster around your site rather than being where they hang out anyway (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc…), it’s nonetheless a stable anchor in an ever-changing system."

That anchor will be critical in “owning” your fans through the acquisition of email addresses. Relying strictly on social media for fan contact isn’t enough because once they decide to move on to the next platform, you’ve lost them forever.

2. Only Pick What You Can Sustain. 

You shouldn’t feel pressured to use every social networking site you’ve ever heard of. It’s fine to just use one or two. People have very different media preferences and the key is to use the one(s) that fit your lifestyle.

Baym explains, “Are you highly mobile and rarely use a computer but love to text? Twitter might be the one for you. Love your smart phone? Maybe Twitter and Facebook. Highly visual? Post videos to YouTube or pictures to Facebook and Flickr. Love hanging out at your computer? Write a blog and build website content.”

3. Get Help.

Social media management is increasingly part of what today’s artist managers should be doing for their clients, but it’s also something musicians can seek out directly. Whether it’s through fan management companies, recruiting interns from nearby universities, or even having your own fans helping you out, enlisting the skills of others will go a long way.

"The audience itself contains a wealth of talent, and many of them are already going to be doing things to help you online," Baym says. "It’s okay to ask them for help in building and spreading your online presence."

She goes on to suggest adopting a “gift culture” with your audience:

"It’s important to understand that sharing is at the heart of music fans’ gift culture. To have music you love and not tell others about it is not just incredibly difficult, it’s ethically wrong. Gift cultures are guided by moral rather than a legalistic compass as they determine what is right and what is fair."

4. Keep Your Audience Up to Date

At the very least, your fans should have pertinent information available to them. Whether it comes from you directly, or from a member of your team, it’s important that the information gets where it needs to be.

"As a general rule, impersonal information (tour dates, release dates, events, etc…) can be shared by people other than the musician. Personal information ought to come from the artist. Many musicians have a split where management or interns handle the impersonal information and they attend only to any personal posting they do."

5. Interweave Online & Offline With Valuable Merchandise.

Once record companies began packaging music as a commodity, music came to be seen as a good when in reality, the good was the vinyl or the CD. There are other tangible goods that still make money for musicians (DVDs, T-shirts, buttons, stickers, posters, etc…) but it’s important to remember that these make money because fans like to have objects.

"Fans like to show others that they are into you, and goods provide a concrete way to display that," Baym says. "Many musicians have shown with special limited releases that people will pay a lot of money for nice goods, especially if they are limited and feel handcrafted."

6. Let Your Audience In On The Art Making!

The more you encourage your own fans’ creativity, the more they will come to appreciate your own. Encourage them to record and upload videos from your shows, give them the guitar tabs to your songs, encourage a cover art contest, create a fan-remix CD, etc…

"Fans value creativity," Baym says. "Artists tend to focus on their own creativity, and that is the focus around which fans organize, but they can also use others’ art as an opportunity to flex their own creative muscles."

7. Respect Their Feelings.

People are going to feel what they’re going to feel. You can’t change it. The fact that your audience is emotionally engaged means that they’re paying attention to you and that they care. Don’t focus on the people whose feelings bring you down. It’s important to acquire thick skin. You’ll have to be able to deal with people saying things about you and your art that you may not like.

Billy Bragg was quoted in saying. “If you allow people to put you on a pedestal, you can’t complain when pigeons shit on your head.”

8. Really, It’s Not About You.

When you make it clear that your fans are using your music to build their own identities and communities, engaging them becomes much easier. You can talk about other things that tap into their own experiences.

Did you just release a break-up song? Ask your fans to share their stories of heartache. Let you and your music become part of who they are as individuals.

9. Let Social Media Be a Way To Tell Your Story.

It’s been said that tomorrow’s best marketers are those who can tell great stories.

Think of social media as a way to extend your story through your music. Fans will certainly care about the quality of sounds they’ll be hearing, but they’ll also care about context.

Baym explains, “If you work to keep the information and interactions you have consistent with the image and storyline you are projecting, questions of what to post and how to deal with the sorts of things that fans do can be much easier.”

10. Give Them a Way to Participate in Your Story.

Never underestimate your fans’ desire to participate in telling your story. Encourage ways for them to tell their friends and peers. Social media platforms exist for you build your story, and for your fans to share that story with others.

The more tools you give them to tell your story, the easier they can spread it around. So at the end of the day, do musicians need to utilize social media?

Well as a matter of practical necessity, your audience is already online and it would behoove you to take advantage of that. However, it’s important to not think in terms of your audience being online or offline.

For it is what happens to them offline, which is interwoven with what they experience online, that makes your music that much more valuable to them as a listener, as your fan, and as an individual. They become a part of your experience and you of theirs. Social media is simply the intermediary between the two.