Since last November when Virgin America switched to the new Sabre Airline Solutions reservation system, my experience with Virgin America has been awful. I've made reservations and receive no confirmations via email.
Imagine having to recall your reservation without the benefit of a confirmation, or a ticket or reservation number. That requires passengers to phone Virgin America only to be told that wait times are 58 minutes to 1 hour and 14 minutes.
What kind of moron is running this show?
For an airline that prides itself on class, style, and efficiency, this brand's equity is being squandered in technology that not only fails, but causes immense inconvenience to business travelers like myself.
Thanks for the 5,000 miles you guys sent Elevate members to compensate for the inconvenience. It's not enough -- especially when I need to call and wait an hour just to receive a simple flight confirmation.
How about doubling or tripling the numbers of reservations staff to compensate for the failures of the reservation system? And cancelling the penalties for booking online.
The cool music in your airline restrooms and purple lighting are no compensation for poor management.
Virgin America and its executive team get a giant FAIL for this rank stupidity, and for failing to adequately solve these problems. The situation for me is no better than it was three months ago when the complaints first started.
ThingLink.com. ThingLink is a new format for artists that uses image as a platform for story telling. Hover your mouse over a ThingLink'ed image and move into the 4th dimension with new, multi-media integrations of video, music and information shared across social networks.
Creating a ThingLink art photo starts with a favorite image that is evocative. Add rich media (from YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud, Wikipedia, FlickR, and others) that plays inside the image. Pick a sentiment and search for it on SoundCloud from among millions of songs. Do the same with a video from YouTube. Be direct, be subtle. And the content that tells your story
Then use the symbols on the left side of the image to share with friends via Twitter, Facebook and email. Or embed the image on another blog or website.
Check out the ThingLink Gallery for some cool image examples.
Calligraffiti mashes up beautiful and traditional calligraphy with the street grittiness of graffiti. Artist Niels Meulman, also known as Shoe, is an Amsterdam-based creative director with international ad agencies like BBDO and television networks like MTV (where he was their creative director for a short period of time). Read more about Niels here.
Framed is a video format for displaying diverse forms of expression including interactive art, web applications, motion graphics & illustration. FRAMED* transforms all spaces - whether private or public. From your living room to a gallery, cafe or restaurant, FRAMED* brings style to all moments of life.
Then I asked, "If you could supercharge your photos and make them 10-50x more engaging for fans, and do it for free, would you?"
Enter ThingLink, a service you can install on your blog or web pages, that turns photos interactive and lets you place a YouTube player, a SoundCloud player, and links to Twitter, Facebook and more -- INSIDE your photos.
Band marketing is all about finding ways to engage fans ultimately leading to a sale or exchange. Groups that fail to engage fans are history. Now a band can use images as a platform for audio and video content, social touch points and points of sale.
Because of the proven power of ThingLinked images to engage fans, band marketing campaigns should include a discussion on the best ways to utilize ThingLinked photos, and in particular, the content that fans will enjoy.
How many links inside an image work best for fans? 3, 5, 7? The more you work with ThingLink, the faster you can discover the most effective ways to tag your images.
Hover your mouse over the image below. Atlantic Records recently used ThingLink to promote Simple Plan's new album, "Get Your Heart On." They transformed the image into a very engaging platform with links to Simple Plan videos, songs, a pre-sale site, Twitter and more.
Thanh Nguyen, Digital Marketing at Atlantic Records, noted: "It’s an innovative way to introduce the album cover to the public and have it be dynamic, not just a static image. To have video and audio accompany the image really helps connect the marketing. And the social tie-in is a big plus."
Here's another cool feature of ThingLink'ed images. The left menu bar on the image has share and embed icons so fans can share images containing your links with 1-click to Twitter, Facebook and email. Grab an embed code and you can publish an image on any blog or web site.
Wherever your images are re-posted and published, the links go with it. So if 10, 50, or 100 blogs publish the embed code for your image, then hundreds and thousands of potential fans have a chance to click on your links to music, video, points of sale, Twitter and Facebook.
ThingLink also gives its users a Social Dashboard with statistics on image views, hovers and clicks, so you can analyze link performance and improve your fan engagement.
Check out this awesome collection of CD covers from the Billboard 200 for great examples of ThingLink in action.
And here's my own concert poster with ThingLink SmartLinks, so you can get some ideas for tagging your own posters.
How will you use ThingLink for band marketing? Get ThingLink installed on your Wordpress, Blogger, or Tumblr blog and website and start engaging fans in fun and effective ways.
(Note: In addition to writing, recording and performing my own music, I'm also the chief marketing officer for ThingLink.)
|The Apptwee ri® controls an ever-expanding database of products; 225 popular brands, over 72 device types, and 845 models of infrared-controlled devices. caption|
1. CLICK: Click on the PENCIL (Edit Tags) in the left of the picture. The Image Editor opens.
Lets fill up the Lotus with Inspiration.
With Jango the artist pays for online radio plays to an audience of millions. A band might buy 1000 or more plays monthly, and the site offers tons of great features that help you reach the right audiences that might like your music.
For listeners, Jango is free online radio, and listeners can become fans of those artists being played. Artists can target music to listeners by musical artist they like, and geographically by country and state (USA). With premium targeting (costs more per play), artists can target by gender and age as well.
When someone becomes my fan, some of them also join my email list. Jango also tells me stuff about my listeners: what other artists do my listeners enjoy and how old are they? That is really useful information that can inform every other extension of your marketing campaign.
My song "Natural Moment" is liked by fans who enjoy Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Santana and Pink Floyd. My song with Will Ackerman, "Imagine," is liked by fans who enjoy Josh Groban, Sarah Brightman, The Three Tenors and Andrea Bocelli.
That information lets me target my music to Jango listeners more precisely. And I get information that helps me rank my success, comparing numbers of plays to fan signups. Jango also lets me send a few emails a week so I can make a deeper connection with fans.
With Jango I'm reaching real people with my CD, Sacred Love and connecting with new fans. That's what it's all about. Jango gets 4 stars out of 5.
I'd like to see Jango add targeting by song. I've play a few styles of music and it's all about targeting music to audiences song by song. That will win Jango the 5th star in my book.
I tried a one month promo offered by MusicSubmit that offered to circulate info on my CD to 400 contacts. I thought, for $99, lets try it out.
Over the next 6 weeks or so, every few weeks my email was flooded with a stream of 100+ emails notifying me that MusicSubmit had contacted bloggers, radio stations and writers about my CD. From that 400 I was contacted by 1 per cent of the recipients. That's a pretty crappy result even for email.
When I signed up as an artist, I also signed up with MusicSubmit to review music. I wanted to see how the platform worked end to end. So I had two accounts. As a MusicSubmit reviewer I rarely liked any of the MusicSubmit music review opportunities, and stopped looking.
Which concerned me - because I bet the vast majority of MusicSubmit queries for other reviewers reach guys like me - who are bombarded with information.
Since I'm in the public relations business, I know that if you pitch someone by email, you need to follow up by phone if you want to get something done. That's what is missing from MusicSubmit. Their outreach goes nowhere...and you throw money away.
FROM THE MUSIC SUBMIT HOME PAGE:
Are you a Rock, Hip Hop, Country or Indie Genre???
MusicSubmit did everything they said they would do. I'm pleased that they were honest.
What artists need to know is that MusicSubmit is a cash machine for the MusicSubmit people, a really terrific business.
MusicSubmit is a waste of time for artists. I give Music Submit 0 stars out of 5....because artists can do better taking $100-$210 or more and hire someone to make personal contacts for you. If you do, you might end up with something more than nothing.
1. Make a Budget and Stick to It
Records cost lots of money to make. If you're recording in your home studio, you've probably spent thousands of dollars for a computer, software, audio interfaces, speakers, microphones and musical instruments. Whether you're recording your CD at home or working with a producer at independent studios, you want to make a budget and stick to it.
My budget included fees for producer, studio, travel, musicians, mastering, PR and radio promotion, duplication, and distribution. Make sure you know what you expect to spend and over how long, so that you can raise the money.
Producers get paid hourly or by the song, or a custom deal plus points on a song. If you are co-producing, you can split the points.
Musicians get paid different fees from free to sky's the limit. The more famous and accomplished musicians get larger fees than your friend might - unless your friend is Sting.
Figure all the possible costs of your recording and put them into your budget. Then try to spend money according to the budget.
And even if you do, it's more likely than not that you'll go over budget. So add a 10 per cent contingency right now. Then when it comes time for you to professionally master, and design, duplicate and promote your CD, you can have the cash you need once the recording is finished.
2. Surround Yourself with the Best
Whether you're planning on a solo or group recording, bringing together neighborhood musicians, or recording with the best producers, musicians and production staff, you're only as good as the company you keep. As an acoustic guitarist and a composer of conscious music, I approached the legendary producer and guitarist Will Ackerman who I felt had the experience and expertise to help me take my music to the next level. As the founder of Windham Hill Records, a gifted creator of acoustic guitar music, and producer of artists like George Winston, Michael Hedges, Alex DeGrassi, Shadowfax, and Jeff Oster, Will brought his vast expertise and a unique sensitivity to my recording project.
His own Imaginary Road Studios in Windham County, VT also features customized state-of-the-art microphones and preamps that helped make me sound my best. Grammy Award-winning engineer Corin Nelsen is the resident recording and mixing engineer. At Imaginary Road I felt comfortable because the studio was situated in the Nature on 100 acres of spacious beautiful Vermont woodlands. So I was in a great place surrounded by accomplished production people, and I was able to focus on creating the music I needed to create for the recording.
Preparation in the studio means you're making an efficient use of costly studio and staff time. If you're working with a producer, get together before you get into the studio to discuss and agree on a gameplan for the recording. How much time do you need to spend per song, how many total days in the studio for recording and mixing, which musicians are you planning to add to your tracks, and when are you scheduling the sessions, etc.
If you are bringing together musicians to perform on your CD, write out lead sheets and chord charts beforehand. And practice your songs. Make sure your own performances are so tight that you can deliver your best in the studio the first take. I practiced the songs on my CD, and recorded them in my home studio, so that I could perform them well in a studio-like environment. It really helps to be prepared and you'll likely save money as a result.
I was really impressed when my studio musicians contacted me before the sessions for copies of the lead sheets and recordings, so they could practice. Tony Levin played bass on five songs and he was totally prepared. Watch his session on YouTube.
4. Build Time Into the Process
Sometimes in recordings, you're pressured to record and mix without a break. When that's due to budget considerations, you have to go with it. I suggest building time into the recording process. Time is your friend.
I scheduled about 2 weeks between the recording of the guitars on Sacred Love, and layering of other instruments. That gave me time to familiarize myself with my own performances of the songs on "Sacred Love." From there both Will and I heard specific instruments playing melodies, leads and harmonies on the recordings, and we had time to line up the instrumentalists.
You can watch videos of my sessions on YouTube.com/ShambhuMusic.
Building in time for reflection was necessary for ideas to form, crystallize and then emerge. We added violin, drums, cello, bass, sarod and other instruments, and we sought out the most sensitive musicians to create with us. These artists included Eugene Friesen on cello (Call to Spirit, Edge of Eternal, Revelation), Jill Haley on English horn (Edge of Eternal, Revelation), Premik Tubbs on windsynth (Together) and flute (Nirab Amare), Ravichandra Kulur on flute (Humility and Call to Spirit), Jeff Haynes (percussion), Celso Alberti (drums) and Todd Boston (sarod).
I also scheduled about two weeks between the final recording session and the mix session. And then two weeks between the final mixes and Mastering, and a few days before mastering, we did the 'final' final tweaks.
5. When You're Done Recording, Then there is Post-Production
Congratulations...the recording is finished. Now you need to think about mastering, design of the cover, duplication, copyrights, digital rights management, etc.
Mastering adds the simonize to 'shine' the recording. A good mastering engineer can match the volumes and tone of the various tracks so your tracks soundåßß like they belong on the same album. I was fortunate to work with Adam Ayan, mastering Engineer at Gateway Mastering in Portland, ME, and Corin Nelsen was on hand to make sure we got the sound just right. Most major duplicators offer mastering services for 10-20 per cent of the cost of a Gateway. If you can afford the best, you'll definitely get your money's worth.
CD duplicators can deliver 1000 CDs to you in a few weeks. You get to design the cover and can work with your duplicator on all aspects of the recording. This includes design of cover and CD art, writing of a booklet or insert and inside and outside sleeves, and they can also help set up electronic distribution to iTunes, Amazon and other online retailers.
Copyright your sound recording with the U.S Patent and Trade Mark Office.
Set up your publishing with BMI or ASCAP. And if you're expecting to get radio play, sign up with Sound Exchange.
6. CD is Done? You're at the Beginning.
When you have your finished CDs in hand then you're at the staring line again. Now comes the challenge of promoting it and engaging with listeners and buyers. And you might want some help. There are people who specialize in radio promo, public relations outreach, social media and retail distribution. If you have the cash and budgeted for experts, hire them now. And if you want to get your songs into major chain stores, work with a music distributor who can help.
Sacred Love features Shambhu on guitar with:
Will Ackerman - guitar
Tony Levin - bass
Michael Manring - bass
Jeff Haynes - percussion
Eugene Friesen - cello
Jill Haley - English horn
George Brooks - sax
Ravichandra Kulur - flutes
Todd Boston - sarod
Premik Russell Tubbs - wind synth and flute
Celso Alberti - drums
Charlie Bisharat - violin
Jeff Oster - flugelhorn
Rocky Fretz - piano
Claytoven Richardson and Noah Wilding - vocals
About the Author
Shambhu is an acclaimed guitarist and composer who performs an exquisite fusion of contemporary acoustic, world, Indian and jazz styles that engender feelings of tranquility, harmony and fulfillment.
Shambhu's technical mastery of the guitar enables delicate expressions of nuance and subtlety while engaging audiences in deep spirit. His music has been called ‘magical,' a ‘journey', and ‘opening a space within'.
Shambhu has performed with Carlos Santana, Narada Michael Walden, Premik Russell Tubbs, and played on Whitney Houston's multi-platinum album, "Whitney." He studied meditation for three decades with the renowned mystic Sri Chinmoy.
In A Juicy, Joyful Life you’ll meet 41 extraordinary women, from housewives to radio hosts; from coaches to healers – women who stepped forward to share their inspirational and heart-felt stories and authentic truth with the collective intention of encouraging ALL women to embrace the truth that “where you’ve been does not define where you will go. You CAN create a new personal story filled with love, hope and purpose.”
"Stellar in every respect. Shambhu is a superb guitarist and a true composer. Creating this dynamic and beautiful recording together was a joy.”
“A masterful, melodic and magical expression … exquisite compositions played to perfection with guest appearances by some of today’s finest musicians. This tuneful journey has left me spellbound!”
Proceeds from the sale of the book are being donated to a charity - the Make A Wish Foundation with this edition.
The book features chapters addressing 10 topics: At the coalface; Conversational branding; Influence; Getting to work; Corporate conversations; Measurement; In the boardroom; Pitching social media; Innovation and execution; and Identities, friends and trusted strangers.
Here are my co-authors on the project:
Enter Kroogi.com - a content community that launched about a year ago in Russia. At Kroogi.com artists post content and fans can download and "Pay What They Want" for it.
Kroogi.com founder, Miro Sarbaev, calls it a 'gratitude economy model' and about 20% of fans at Kroogi.com pay for content they enjoy.
So if you're a musician, artist, photographer, videographer or writer looking for a new outlet for distributing and selling your creative content, check out Kroogi.com. I'm a musician working with Kroogi, and it's definitely a place where I want to post music. Who knows, it just might be the next, successful distribution model.
This is Shambhu in my other life as new age recording artist Shambhu. Shambhu performs original music on acoustic and electric guitars.
Check out my new music site, Shambhu Music, where I will preview songs from my upcoming CD, share downloads and keep you updated on where we can connect up live when I perform.
Lets cut through the noise, disinformation and thuggery being paid for by the Insurance industry and orchestrated by their lobbyists and PR firms. These guys are going to lose and pay for it if they continue their despicable behavior.
8 ways health care and insurance reform will provide security and stability to those with or without coverage:
- Ends Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from refusing you coverage because of your medical history.
- Ends Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays: Insurance companies will have to abide by yearly caps on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.
- Ends Cost-Sharing for Preventive Care: Insurance companies must fully cover, without charge, regular checkups and tests that help you prevent illness, such as mammograms or eye and foot exams for diabetics.
- Ends Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill: Insurance companies will be prohibited from dropping or watering down insurance coverage for those who become seriously ill.
- Ends Gender Discrimination: Insurance companies will be prohibited from charging you more because of your gender.
- Ends Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage: Insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive.
- Extends Coverage for Young Adults: Children would continue to be eligible for family coverage through the age of 26.
- Guarantees Insurance Renewal: Insurance companies will be required to renew any policy as long as the policyholder pays their premium in full. Insurance companies won't be allowed to refuse renewal because someone became sick.
Here's a moving tribute by Deepak Chopra.
"...when the shock subsides and a thousand public voices recount Michael's brilliant, joyous, embattled, enigmatic, bizarre trajectory, I hope the word "joyous" is the one that will rise from the ashes and shine as he once did."
Andy Ostroy wrote: "Now that he's gone, the appreciation of his gigantic talent, and the tremendous impact it's had on pop culture, inspiring everyone from Justin Timberlake and Usher to Chris Brown and Madonna, has really hit home."
Jon Pareles' appraisal of Michael's life in the NY TIMES is worth a read..
And finally to Michael..."We are the World" - a landmark humanitarian effort from the mid-80s!