Zoe Keating: Effectively Engaging Fans

I’ve been a fan of Zoe Keating for years. Besides enjoying her music greatly, I’ve also been very interested in the way she interacts with her fans. She’s used today’s social media landscape exceptionally well to build her brand, and a career as a musician within a very unique niche.

Her main tools for engagement are:

What’s a bit more surprising to me are the tools she doesn’t use. Her YouTube channel is pretty spare, and not recently updated. Considering how much I’ve heard about video being “the” thing, looks like she’s experimented with it and has moved along. Now, if you search for her music there, you’ll find tons of videos, but that’s mostly uploads from fans, interviews and such. Also, her music has been uploaded to Vimeo, but, again, not by her. So, she’s present in the world of video, but not deeply so.

I’m also surprised she doesn’t have any campaigns on Patreon nor on Kickstarter. Now, her music is available on iTunes, Spotify, and many other online services. So she might not feel the need to have these income streams. Other musicians and artists in similar styles and viewpoints use them quite heavily, like Amanda Palmer.

Considering all that, it’s important to look at which of these avenues is the most profitable to her. As the chart below shows (created by the folks at Business Insider), most of her income comes from iTunes, Bandcamp and Amazon.

Graph of Zoe Keating's income sources
A look at Zoe Keating’s income sources

* Some thoughts on Fanbridge: I imagine it’s a great tool, and it is competitively priced. But it’s important to point out that Mailchimp is quite a bit cheaper, at least at the start. I also wonder if it interacts with any specialized CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools. That would certainly bump up the value of Fanbridge. Mailchimp plays well with several CRM tools. Also, some of the serious competitors, like Constant Contact or Salesforce have those tools fully baked in. With that, I’m unaware of Zoe using any CRM tools. Doesn’t mean she doesn’t, just don’t see anything.

Lastly, Ms. Keating speaks some to these points in the video below. Worth your while.

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Modern Business, Social Media, and @Taylorswift13

Inc. has a great piece looking at Taylor Swift and her uber-successful social media dialog with Apple. I’ve been very impressed with Ms. Swift. Her savvy social media execution has helped build her into a powerful brand. This is a woman who will have a powerful impact for years to come.

The article sums up the tools she used for success in this case nicely. She maintained a respectful tone in her dialog with Apple (I’m reluctant to use any other term as she made a statement and Apple, extremely wisely, took the advice). They also look at the way she’s managed her relationship with her fans, with which I think she’s done an exceptional job. And I adore the way she’s poked fun, in a very positive way, at the media speculation and harassment that follows her.

Ms. Swift is a bright, talented and engaging woman, who I think has done an exceptional job to date managing her brand, life and business interests. There’s a lot to learn from her savvy, no matter the sector you find yourself in. And if you’re in the arts, there’s tons.

Social Media Meditation

So many articles about how to make zillions on social media. I’ve long ago grown weary of that discussion. Don’t get caught up in the “magic money” mindset: “Set up Facebook/Twitter and watch the money roll in”. 

Social media provides great opportunities to engage communities. Connecting with a wider audience without much monetary cost is fantastic. However, there is the time cost to consider. Also, everyone is on these channels, as the cost is so low. Developing a distinct voice can be challenging, yet is critical. A key part of that is focus: you can’t be everything to everyone. Trying such dilutes that focus, and you lose sight of what’s critical. It’s better to have 300 engaged fans than 10k unengaged ones. Follower and Like counting are not always the best metrics. Be thoughtful how you measure success.

Your social media meditation for Sunday. Go forth and do great things!

Additional thoughts on the Texas principal forcing a portfolio takedown

I have grave concerns after reading this article: High School Forces Student to Remove Online Photos Under Threat of Suspension. Without being able to see the work in question, it’s hard to form a full conclusion. At best, this principal needs a major primer in public affairs. From what I’ve read and seen, though, the principal in question has exceeded his legal reach, and escaped ethical boundaries.

Photos taken at public events (and a district meet/game is a public event) are the property of the photographer. Perhaps these were taken with school gear, and ownership becomes a little trickier. Maybe, but not really. Fair use is fairly clear. It doesn’t appear that this young man was making money directly off these images.

For a photographer, the online portfolio is critical. It is THE vehicle, anymore, to generate awareness and recognition. This principal’s actions provide a major impediment towards this young man’s pursuit of his passion, to build a photography career. Which should be antithetical to the role of an educator.

Maybe there were some grounds to act. I’m struggling to see any, but I’ll accept the possibility might exist. Going the heavy-handed route, though, seriously violates the nurturing role of an educator. It also displays an amazing tone-deafness regarding his role as a public servant and community leader. The potential public fallout from this (this is in Texas, I’m in Seattle. It’s going viral) could have easily been avoided by seeking a win-win solution, to recognize the student’s rights and concerns and goals.

Lesson: if you’re in a public role, you need to consider the broad-scale implications of your actions. The ease at which misdeeds go global is mind blowing. I have a sympathy ulcer for the public affairs director for this district. Nothing like a national press kerfuffle to grey your hairs.

Being Female in the Digital Age and my Disappointment for Food Democracy Now

I was annoyed when I saw this hit my Twitter feed.

The article references Food Democracy Now‘s response to an article written by the New York Time’s Amy Harmon. That an organization that I support  pulled this crap really got to me.

We’re used to this stuff from the Right, whether Rush Limbaugh railing against a 7th grade Chelsea Clinton not being sexy enough, or the blather about Nancy Pelosi unprettyness, ad nasuem. Yet, Pamela reminds us that both sides of the aisle are happy to partake. Then I remember seeing some of the pornographic representations of Sarah Palin during the “Drill Baby Drill” kerfuffle. Sadly, politics seems to bring out the ugliest in us all.

It disappoints me when the Left, in all our drive for equal access, the obliteration of privilege and the like undercut our own message with sexist drivel. For those of us who value reason and debate over petty slings, we need to respond accordingly. Food Democracy Now, I’m deeply disappointed in you. Whether that means anything to you, I don’t know. My ability to take anything you say with seriousness has been compromised, knowing you’ll resort to cheap harassment in the face of critique.

PayPal+Customer Service+PR=Longevity

I posted this on my other blog a few weeks back, then thought it would be more relevant over here. So, without further adieu…

Reading this at Venture Beat just annoyed the crap out of me: GlassUp raised $100K on Indiegogo — but PayPal is refusing to pay up. This isn’t the first time PayPal has dealt with similar issues, even to the point where their president publicly intervened in a resolution. This troubles me regarding PayPal’s future.

 These rules need to significant repair if PayPal wants to remain relevant in this space. StartUps, heck, any business CANNOT operate with random and inconsistent access to funds. I think PayPal’s growth as a purchase transaction processor might be the root of these aggravations. At a brief glance, I see vigorous efforts to protect buyers from fraud. Noble, but hampering these transactions that vary from that model. Policies need to evolve with market changes. Especially market shifts that reflect your company’s goals and objectives.

David Marcus has publicly tried to change this, to better align themselves with the startup community’s needs. However, high profile breakdowns like this run the risk of major damage to the brand. And, I guarantee you that someone out there is getting ready to come in and out innovate PayPal. PayPal has been a disruptive innovator in their field, and have brought a lot of value. However, these gaffs have eroded trust and that goodwill will be hard to earn back. These are ripe fields for competitors to come in and win.

<updated content> PayPal has made a updates to their service plan, and I haven’t had the chance to review them yet. I recognize the importance of that so will do so soon.

A Good Way To Engage The Public

Just read Ragan’s post about Southwest’s engagement via social media. They clearly get social media, how it’s about listening. I love seeing stuff like this.

I found their desire to name their PR command center “The Listening Post” particularly telling. Compare it, if you will, with Wal-Mart’s choice of “War Room”. One implies collaborative, engagement, respectful of it’s customers; while the other immediately screams adversarial. Seems clear which will be the best at mollifying the energy of critics.

This attitude works best to build ambassadors for your brand. These fans will be infinitely better at defusing potential crisis then even the best PR pros.

Your fans are a key asset. Invest in them.

My Views: The Latest Limbaugh Faux Pas

Years ago, I sat watching the tv, an early twenty-something sailor on leave in Oregon, sitting in the living-room of a shipmate’s uncle. I’d lived some: spent some time in college before dropping out, studied music in college, managed a pizza place, went off to a vocational program on Oregon (I lived on the Oregon coast when I joined the Navy). Yet I was still quite naive in my world view. Through an odd series of fateful twists, I am now back in Oregon in this Portland suburb.

On the television was Rush. I’d never seen nor heard of him to that point. Mesmerized, I digested the whole show. It resonated, but not uncertain exactly why. I had long felt a core of anger, perhaps he captured that. I knew there were problems in the world. Limbaugh pointed fault at “them”; whether those dreadful welfare moms, criminals or other nefarious destroyers of our way of life. Perhaps it was easy to follow along, these weren’t people I knew. Or at least realized I did. It’s easier to blame others than to look within when it comes to society’s ills. Of course, that’s a sign of weakness; even considering that any fault might lie within “us”: “liberal guilt”. It’s easier, I guess, to live within blameless denial.

Limbaugh’s hated for Bill Clinton legion, thus any one close to him was fair game. One show he stated that he had a picture of the ugliest resident of the White House. Then up he flashed a picture Chelsea Clinton, then junior high aged. He went on about how she was the ugliest White House resident, except for maybe Eleanor Roosevelt. I felt a strong sense of distaste, and I wondered why his moralizing fans weren’t at all bothered about his sense of offense that this junior high girl wasn’t sexy enough for her. For me, at least, this was the trigger. Combined with my meeting these dreaded “others”: welfare moms, gays, and other members of society that Limbaugh hates, discovering they’re not only human, not only decent human beings, not only living a more moral/righteous life, but that I actually admired them, any alignment with him died.

His treatment of Chelsea Clinton, all those years ago, makes me unsurprised at his attack of Sandra Fluke. That he would be nasty and abusive towards a young woman fits his mold completely. To be clear, I feel no rage. He and his adherents rage against the tide of change. Smug, clinging to absolution to any fault, no necessity of change.

Perhaps the question to be asked is what will be the long-term impact. Libaugh’s audience seems to entail three types of follks: 1) those who agree with him and share his views, 2) those who simply want to see what wacky/offensive thing he’s going to say next, and, lastly, 3) those who find  him offensive and just can’t turn away. I doubt group 1) will ever leave him. Perhaps if his hypocrisy became too much. Perhaps. #2… they’re in it for the show. If he just became uncontroversial, they’d vanish. Then there’s #3. Will these folks turn away? That I doubt, too. Too many times have we come into this realm of offense, too often nobody’s departed. Thus, I doubt that he’ll be dropped, that he’ll vanish from the airwaves.

What to do about such a person? I don’t have an answer. For me, I find I have too much to do to worry about the rantings of a nasty, bitter old man. That’s my response. I don’t know if it’s better than anyone else’s. What do you think?

Reflecting on September 11

Early in the morning, 10 years ago, I dozed listening to NPR and heard something about a plane flying into a building in New York. Imagining a terrible accident, I rose, turning on CNN. I’m unaware of how much time passed before the second plane flew into the towers. At that point I knew this was deliberate; and horrible beyond imagination. The office manager of a church, I made my way there and we opened our chapel for prayers (it’s an inner city parish; unmonitored open doors are generally a recipe for trouble). A predominately progressive church, but with a diversity of political views, I heard angry diatribes about Bush’s destructive policies, to raging demands of blasting all Arabs to dust. My personal reaction was more complex, more focused on compassion; solidly progressive. Anyway, ten-years out, I’m trying to ascertain how this changed me.

Clearly the world changed. But I wasn’t at ground zero. Nor did I lose friends or family. My personal, direct impact was small. Yet, something(s) changed. For many, the change was a sudden awareness of the burning hatred so much of the world carries for the US. Having read such works as Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States, I was well aware of my country’s list of offenses. So the venom directed at the US was hardly news. So that’s not it.

Air travel security seems an obvious change for us all. However, I haven’t traveled by air much since. Thus the impact on me; very minimal. I’m hard pressed to find anything else obvious. Perhaps it’s not so clear. So much has changed in ten years. How do I separate out 9/11 vs. the other changes of my life? Perhaps I need to look deeper than these minute details.

I have become more committed to my values. Embarking more deeply Christ’s commandments towards compassion. I see their value at deeper level than before. I am more committed to redemption, to eradicating fear from my life, and to layering peace throughout my life. I also try to think bigger picture. Such things as remembering the less dramatic heroes. Like the Canadian families who took in our displaced citizens when we shut down our airspace. Important acts of kindness during moments of horror. Hold those examples up.

My world is dramatically different now. Separating out the effects of the terrorist attacks is futile. Yet 9/11 influences me deeply; a small, tight thread woven throughout my life. My life, my being is the gestalt. These subdivisions merely academic and, ultimately, empty. Perhaps that’s the most fitting lesson to me of all.


I just watched part of a show about 9/11 conspiracy theories (click here for more). Now, I’m no engineer (though have a great deal of related training), so am disinclined to argue the facts on either side of this debate. I lean towards to official story, though, My main criteria for this? For such a secret to be maintained would truly be a revolutionary event. These same people who can’t keep secret the next speech are going to keep THIS under wraps? The divergent and conflicting agendas within the federal government will work together in this instance?

Now, if there is some shadow org affecting such actions, the ramifications are amazing. Keeping such secrets with actions that would work across departments is something unique. Perhaps it’s possible. It escapes my observations, though.