Archive for March, 2010

Sorting Out Your Music Website Design for Music SEO

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

According to the February Search results posted by Silicone Alley Insider In February of 2010 Google domestic core search volume was 65.5% vs. 16.8% for Yahoo and %11.5 for Bing. Google is the 800 lbs. Gorilla. The reason want control over where you come up in search Engine results? According to a recent study by icrossing – roughly 95% of all clicks for what people are searching for come from the top page of results across the big three search engines. I’m going to guess you are coming along with me on this ride and see where this is going – you have to be able to be found when someone is looking for you and preferably they should find you through a destination page that you have 100% control over.

A word about websites in general – if you don’t have one – get one. MySpace and ReverbNation are fantastic tools but they are only tools at the end of the day. For perception alone it is required that you have a website – it makes you appear considerably less fly-by-night than the bands who only use social network profiles. It sends the not so subtle message that yes – I make music for a living and yes- I am serious about my job. A website does not need to be complicated and does not need not be expensive to do what it is supposed to do. A website is to get people looking for you to be able to find you and to listen to your music and your message when they arrive there – that’s it.

I often hear that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can’t be done for art or for music. There is some truth to this in that unless you are making music for a certain purpose like “Music for Meditation” or “Music for Halloween” it is very hard to determine exactly what keywords (words people enter into a search engine) would lead people who are fans of what you do to your homepage. On the other hand, a well-optimized site can ensure that your most important keywords (your band name, the name of your last album, the name of your single / song in a recent TV commercial) can be found. It is best to have your site set up to be found just in case your promotion and marketing activities get you some placement where people would know your song but not your band name (TV placement, radio play, opening slot on a tour – whatever it happens to be).

Here are some very basic things to consider about SEO.

1) Your band name. If you have a simple ordinary one-word band name that is a commonly used word – you might be in trouble. The more people who search for that word – the harder it is for you to manipulate the search engine algorithm to ensure you come up in the top positions on a search Engine Results Page. In this instance an Artist like DeadMau5 or Deadmaus would do really well because of the deliberate misspelling and a band like Stand for Dublin are going to have trouble coming up for a search for their name alone. If you are just starting out and haven’t really branded yourself yet take a moment to consider whether or not people will find you based on your name. If you don’t know how often people are looking for a given word or phrase give the Google Adwords Keyword Tool a try.

2) Your Website Text. Search Engines read a webpage from top to bottom, left to right. This is why owning the domain name that is your band or performing name is very important.- so important that people will pay lots of money for domains that get lots of traffic. Owning the domain name with your biggest keywords (usually band name) is the biggest single advantage you can have in showing up first in results. Also along those lines dot COMs seem to rank better than dot NETS and any other suffix for your desired keywords (by way of example – radiohead.com) except for dot EDUs which are not available to the general public. It is also important that your home page have real text on it rather than flash or a photo. I can’t tell you how many people ask me why they aren’t coming up in results only to look at their website and see that the “text” on their homepage is actually part of an image file and therefore not helping your case with search.

3) Tags. Header tags, Meta tags and title tags. Learn what these are and make sure your web designer has these filled with keyword heavy descriptions including the band name – i.e. “The Righteous Dudes – polka music from Plymouth”

4) Breadcrumbs. Also called external links. The more sites that link back to yours the more search engines think your website is worth. The caliber and quality of these sites that link to yours are also important because people who overdue the gaming of their external links tend to wind up on sites called link farms that can actually negatively impact your SEO. All that said make sure that all of your social network profiles – Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, ReverbNation, Linkedin etc point back to your site. Search Engines also value sites that link to themselves even if it is just from one page of your site to another.

5) Anchor Text. The words that are highlighted on what is usually a blue underlined link to another page are called Anchor text. What those words are can help determine how well you show up in results for those words. You never want to highlight the word or words “here” or “click here” when you have the option to use anchor text. Use your band name or whatever keywords you think will help potential fans arrive at your site. I run a site called musiciancoaching.com but lately I have been trying to boost my search results for the words Music Consultant. ß— That should help.

6) Frequency and Consistency. Do you know why the most boring businesses out there blog about their products? I assure you it is not because they enjoy it but rather because search engines favor sites that are regularly updated with new content. As an artist you should make sure that your shows, new albums, press releases etc are online regularly anyway and if you use rich media (photos, mp3s, videos etc) make sure that all of the files are tagged with the words you want people to find you with…

There is much, much more to ranking in search engines but if you weren’t at all familiar I hope that was a bit of help to you. If you set up your website correctly to begin with you won’t have to scramble to make sure that people can find you when your promotion efforts begin to bear fruit or when people have heard about your band and just want to see what you are all about by entering your name into their favorite search engine. Specifically try making Amazon album lists including yours, iTunes iMixes and post on the message boards and blogs of artists who have fans that you think will like you. If you do it in a non spammy way and you have a good product these things will help you tremendously. As always though a good product is always worth more than good product development.

10 Best Tips to Better Band / Music Website Design

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Where ever they are are on the web, there are simple blunders that artists, bands and labels make on their websites, MySpace, Facebook and other social media that turns away potential new fans and stops potential sales of their music. After visiting many artist websites, we found 4-5 of these easy to rectify issues on at least 90% of pages we visited…

So what are the top 10 things that you can do to your online music web presence to make sure you don’t fall into the same trap?

#1 Where is the music?

Have you considered why anyone visits your site. It’s for your music right? OK so where is your music, is it buried on a sub page of your website or is it centre stage with a widget on your home page? At the very least get a free ReverbNation widget and put it “above the fold” (at the top of your website where visitors can see it without scrolling down). Make sure that it is not set to autoplay as visitors may also have other music playing when they land on your page, and there is nothing worse than a cocophony of different songs all playing at once on your PC. At the very least the visitor will switch their sound off, or close your site immediately.

#2 Error 404 Not Found

Broken and mistyped links are the best way of telling visitors you are too busy to attend to your web presence and sending them elsewhere. They’ll probably think that you’ve given up music and will move on. Dont rush the construction of your website, MySpace, Facebook or other online pages. Make sure you take the time to test links carefully, and ask friends to do it too. One of the most common areas that links errors occur are in mailouts or newsletters. Ask a friend to check the links in your newsletter or mailshot BEFORE you send it out, as there is nothing worse than delivering your newsletter twice. At best it looks unprofessional, at worst you’ll get marked as spam by your fans…

#3 How can I contact you?

Do you want to hear from fans, the media, labels, licensing companies, and other opportunities that could further your career? Are you short on people contacting you about your music? Do you have a contact form on your website? No? Aha, so that’s why no-one is getting in touch. You may be a shy muso that spends too much time locked away in the studio, but not putting a contact page on your website you are losing out on potential opportunities for your music every single day.

For some strange reason when people get in touch, they usually favour using a contact form over an email address, one of the best free form services is http://www.emailmeform.com/ so if you haven’t got a contact page on your website get over there now and set it up. Using a contact form on your website is also preferable to using an email link as it avoids spam robots hoovering up your mail address and adding it to mailing lists without your consent.

#4 Are you hiding your beauty, and why is your grandma in the picture?

Humans are funny things. We are a visual race, and the speed of light still outstrips the speed of sound. Our eyes pick up on things way before our ears do, so want to make an impression? Get some photos of you on your website! I can’t tell you how many artists hide behind their music. When a fan comes to your website they want to see YOU. Take the time to invest in some good photographs for your website and make sure that they are well shot, composed and retouched. If you can’t do this yourself either get a friend who’s interested in photography to do it or hire a local professional to do it for you.

Don’t put pictures up from the family album that include your grandma snoring away in the background after one too many sherries, it looks plain silly, and besides people don’t come to your website to see your grandma. The point I am making here though seriously is don’t overlook the photos on your website, make them part of your image. If your playing live, get someone to use a decent camera at the gig, don’t take pictures from a fans phone, they look terrible…

#5 Who needs a website anyway?
Most artists, bands or labels are quite content using their MySpace page as their main web presence which is a great way to start (especially as it very easy for visitors to hear your music using the integrated player – see #1). However laying out a MySpace page is both restrictive and tricky, and whilst you can achieve a lot using a professional designer or MySpace profile design tool, if you want to be taken seriously by the music industry register your own web domain and get a well designed website.

Also have you ever wondered why only people on MySpace contact you on MySpace? That’s because you have to sign in to contact someone on the social network, and not everyone has a MySpace login. So you are cutting out potential contacts if you don’t have an alternative to your MySpace. Don’t get blinkered, get a website. If you want to get an easy to use content management system for your band’s website, check out a fully hosted solution SubHub membership websites, where you can set up a great VIP website for your band at very low yearly costs (Oh and don’t forget the contact page!)

#6 Information Overload
Keep your website, MySpace, Facebook and other online social media sites to the point. I can’t tell you how many MySpace sites I have seen that post a LONG block of hard to read text all in one place, expecting people to be able to consume the information easily. Keep Bio’s brief and to the point, make sure it only includes relevant information. Make sure you filter only the best reviews, content, pictures, music and other assets for your website, don’t paste everything just to make it look like you have more background than you have.

Less is more, and posting every tenuous piece of information on your web presence will make your page look cluttered, desperate and unprofessional. Keep it clean, and keep it high quality (Extra tip, if you are dyslexic or just can’t plain spell get someone from Elance to proof read your website – lots of typos make your website look totally unprofessional).

#7 Why do I care if you are in the local “Young Farmers” association?
Keep your music website on topic. Whilst background information in your Bio may be useful if you are targeting a certain type of fan and want them to feel an affinity with you, it is not helpful to post the latest updates on Swine Flu, or other non music related information on your website. Visitors will have probably found your website from another online source and are expecting it to deliver what they came there for – your music, so make sure the content of your bands website contains relevant information that serves the visitor’s expectations.

#8 I’ve got an ego and I’m gonna use it.
There is nothing that turns off fans and potential sales than a misplaced ego. Whilst its important to be confident, getting high and mighty about how great your music is, when you haven’t even mixed, mastered or fixed that dodgy vocal makes you look silly – period. Make sure that everything about your music really lives up to how you present it online, otherwise the world will take Dionne Warwick’s advice and just “Walk On By”.

#9 Your mail could not be delivered.

Are you short on responses from that newsletter you send out every month. Not had anyone contact you for months about your music? Does no one love me or my music? Check your email is actually working. The amount of bouncebacks that we receive when contacting bands is amazing. If you set up a website and get an email address for your band, make sure it is active, and set it up in Outlook or Outlook Express. Check it regularly, and also send yourself regular test email to check your mailserver is working, especially just before important mailouts or newsletters. This is especially important if you don’t normally use the band email every day. Quick extra tip here, don’t use a hotmail or free provider address for your band, it looks naff and shows a total lack of professionalism.

#10 If you’d like to come to the cash desk sir…
Have you ever tried to buy your own music from your website? About 90% of all online music sales are lost simply because there is no option to buy on your web presence when visitors like your music. “But its obvious it’s on iTunes” says the band, but it’s not. If I have to fire up iTunes search for your tracks, before I even get my credit card out then the likeliehood of me purchasing your music is pretty slim. Make it uber easy for people to buy your music by putting clear links (with store logos for brand trust affirmation) directly to the purchase page on the online stores.

Make sure you link to a number of different stores, such as iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby, and other options if they are available to you. Try out sites such as Nimbit, Website Music Player, Reverbnation shop widgets, or other online storefronts too which could help drive sales. At the end of the day if you don’t have the ability to purchase from your website or other online touch points, you’re leaving money on the table.

Artist Promotions: Musicians do 180 on 360 deals

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

I’ve been very fortunate to be affiliated with artists and their managers who have collectively sold over 300 million records. Not once during my three decades in practice did I ever get a call from a record company executive who said, “Hey Bob, we just had a phenomenally profitable year and therefore we are sending your client a big bonus check to show our appreciation for making the label lots of money.”

Now that the record business economy is faltering, label honchos are complaining that they can’t make enough money from record sales alone.

Perhaps not surprisingly, they expect their own recording artists sign so-called “360” deals to subsidize executive compensation packages worthy of Wall Street.

In the past, when record labels faced additional costs associated with new modes of doing business, they simply passed those costs along to their artists in the form of artist royalty reductions, such as the so-called “research and development” costs associated with manufacturing compact discs in the 1980s.

This time, the power grab is much more insidious because it involves taking a portion of income from categories which have always belonged exclusively to the artist.

Under the terms of a typical 360 deal, labels are demanding a portion of an artist’s income from touring, publishing, endorsements, and sale of merchandise, in addition to the vast majority of the record sale income that labels have always enjoyed.

When you read the fine print, you’ll also discover that the labels want to make money from the books that artists write, the Hollywood movies in which they act and the fan clubs they create. In fact the labels want to share in absolutely everything. Does that sound fair to you?

In many of these 360 deals, the record company will demand that their earnings come out of gross revenues. This means that if the cash the labels actually receive has been reduced by any parties in the middle of the transaction (even if those parties themselves add value, as, for example, many music publishers do), then the label will add those amounts back in before calculating the percentage of revenue they retain.

Think about that for a moment. The manager doesn’t get paid on gross, and the artist certainly doesn’t get paid on gross. Why then should the record company be paid on gross?

The 360 deals that I’ve reviewed require the artist to relinquish between 5% and 50% of revenues from sources other than record sales. To illustrate this point, let’s use 20% as the percentage that the record company is seeking from an artist’s live touring income. If that artist is paying all of the traditional touring costs (e.g. hotels, transportation, etc.) as well as paying her manager a 20% commission, her booking agent a 15% commission, and her lawyer and business manager 5% each, then that could result in a record company receiving half of every net touring dollar which winds up in the artist’s pocket.

What’s more, record companies love to “cross-collateralize,” a 31-point Scrabble word that refers to the practice of taking an artist’s positive earnings from one category (e.g. publishing income) and applying it as a record company expense that affects the artist’s unrecouped balance in another category (e.g. the record royalty account).

In other words, the labels are postponing the day when the artist actually receives a positive cash flow from her end of the pipeline. Yet when it comes to the income which they would like to receive from an artist’s 360 income streams, the labels would like to keep 100% of the money to which they are entitled, without applying (i.e. cross-collateralizing) any of it to reduce the artist’s debt to the record company. Apparently, what’s good for the goose…is only good for the goose.

These 360 deals are also rife with conflicts of interests. For example, will an artist still be free to accept a sponsorship from a company whose business is in direct competition with one of the record label’s non-music divisions? And how will record companies deal with fiduciary obligations to their artists, which they were previously able to avoid? And how do record companies think they are going to get around the booking agency laws in California and other states?

And then there is the mother of all conflicts: when an artist’s management company is owned by the same entity that owns the artist’s record company.

Labels justify profiting from multiple rights because they are making a substantial investment in the artist. And in all fairness, sometimes this is true. Our firm represents a young artist called Owl City, who is signed to a 360 deal and topped the Billboard Hot 100 last year with his hit single “Fireflies.” I would be disingenuous if I didn’t acknowledge that such success would not have happened without the financial commitment and promotional and marketing experience of the Universal/Republic label team.

The Owl City success underscores the fact that major labels are still the best way to break an artist whose music is uniquely suited to pop radio. As an artist lawyer, I would be receptive to a 360 deal where the record company is obligated to make an investment in a band’s career. I’m not talking about what a label tells you that they plan to do and spend in relation to each album. I’m talking about what a label is contractually obligated to do and spend. But just try to get a label to commit in the contract to spending $40,000 on publicity, $250,000 on marketing and $350,000 on promotion for each album. It just won’t happen, unless you have an artist who is being aggressively pursued by several labels.

Alternative Record Deals
Here’s another way that I could support the 360 deal. If the record companies took their “360-degree interests” as collateral against their out-of-pocket investment in an artist, and then reverted those 360 rights to the artist when the company’s investment was repaid, these deals would make more sense to me. I still wouldn’t be happy with this model, but I could appreciate the rationale.

But in many of these 360 deals, the label’s rights continue well beyond their recoupment of their investment. In fact, in some 360 deals the artist is required to pay her record company a share of her touring/merchandise/music publishing earnings long after the artist has been dropped by that label, and sometimes the payments are forever.

Is there an alternative to the 360 deal? I believe there are several. In the past few years, many independent record companies have relied on the so-called “net profits” deal. In this business model, the record company is able to minimize its risk by having the right to deduct all of its costs “off-the-top,” including manufacturing, distribution and marketing expenses which are normally not recoupable under the terms of a traditional record contract. The remaining net profits are then shared on a 50-50 basis (or some other split) between the artist and record company. Net profit deals don’t typically have a 360 deal type of obligation because the deal formula is structured to grant the record company a more favorable return of their initial investment.

Another alternative is the self-release model. If a band is willing to make financial and other commitments that are necessary to function as their own record company, it is in their best interest to do so. I realize this is easier said than done, and the road is littered with the carcasses of artists who have tried this and failed, including such luminaries as the Rolling Stones and Pearl Jam. But this is an especially opportune moment for artists. Thanks to the reduced price of innovative recording equipment and software such as Pro Tools, many bands are now able to finance the recording of their own album masters without becoming indebted to the record companies. This means an artist can now justifiably retain the ownership of the copyrights in her own master recordings.

There are also many positive technological developments that weigh in the artist’s favor. Free social networking platforms like MySpace and YouTube provide a marketplace to expose and promote new music. Yet another factor that encourages artists to take control of their own business is that 95% of all digital download sales result from just three sites: iTunes, Amazon and Rhapsody. And all three of these sites are easily accessible through digital aggregators — such as Tunecore, InGrooves and The Orchard — for a distribution fee of just 10% to 20%. It’s even possible for artists to control their own “hard goods sales” (i.e. CDs) by selling them over the band’s Web site or using an intermediary service like CDBaby.

But I don’t want to imply that any of this is easy (it isn’t), problem free (it really isn’t) or inexpensive (it really, really isn’t). Prior to the Wall Street meltdown in the fall of 2008, venture capital money was flowing into the music business to replace the funding that was formerly supplied by the major labels. Music entrepreneurs found themselves able to cherry pick from a substantial pool of experienced and skilled music industry professionals who were made “redundant” at the major labels.

In addition to a great corps of former record execs, the Ahmet Erteguns and Berry Gordys of tomorrow could also hire from the same list of great independent publicists, marketing companies and record promoters as those used by the majors. And best of all from the artist’s point of view, these new start-ups were not demanding 360 rights. In fact most were not even requiring the artists to surrender the ownership of the copyrights to their master recordings. Unfortunately the Crash of 2008 came before this new business model ever really had a chance to flourish.

While we await the return of the venture capitalists, I urge artists to look for new solutions. There is a British company called Polyphonic, which was started by the manager of Radiohead and seems very artist-friendly. There is an American company called ArtistShare, which helps artists finance their own recordings by allowing the fans to purchase the right to become one of the album’s executive producers or to invest some money in return for an all-access pass to the artist’s next tour.

The technological innovations like digital downloading and social networking that revolutionized the music industry grew from the minds of young people who loved music, not from large record companies who sold music. I believe these same young innovators will also dictate the future of the music business for those artists who did not mortgage their futures by making 360 deals. I genuinely believe that this is an especially propitious moment for artists to take control of their own destinies. And I expect record companies, who have always been the artist’s partner in record sales, to remain an important part of the equation — but not at the artist’s expense.

Record companies say that they are seeking 360 rights because they are investing in the careers of the artists. If they mean it, they should put it into the contract. And if they don’t, then I sincerely hope artists will do a 180 on 360 deals.

CD Packaging and CD duplication, Auckland

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010


Kurb promotions offers cd duplication . . . with a range of cheap and affordable cd packaging options

We all know the relevance of CD packaging in the retail business and the music industry. It increases album sales, it helps define the musicians’ style and personality, and it has artistic value. A great CD packaging is especially important to rising new artists. They are still trying to squeeze themselves in the music industry and CD packaging is one avenue for their music and their band to get noticed.

If you are a new musician trying to conceptualize an attention-grabbing CD packaging design for your upcoming album, you should bear in mind that although it is good to appreciate the CD packaging designs of popular bands, it is not always wise to work on the same style or template as theirs. They are already popular, thus they have more freedom to experiment and be obscure with their CD packaging designs. You, on the other hand, have to get noticed first. There are no hard CD packaging design rules and I am not suggesting that you surrender to conformity. This is just to give you some small insights in conceptualizing your CD packaging if you are a new artist.

Here are some things that the popular bands can do but the new artists cannot when it comes to the music retail business and the design of the CD packaging:

Popular musicians can be more obscure with the CD Packaging; new artists should be clear with what the album is all about.

The design should also reflect the style and personality of the musicians and the kind of music they make. Madonna and Lady Gaga have the choice to be obscure with their CD packaging designs simply because they are already established musicians. They do not even have to put a picture of their faces in the CD packaging and people would still buy their albums. They do not have to show big and bold fonts of their names or their album names if their faces are already on the cover. The more popular an artist is the more he can get away with being vague with his CD packaging design. New and rising artists, on the other hand, need to be clearer with their names. Popular musician’s name may not be very clear and may not even show up in the CD packaging; new musicians’ name should standout from afar. The design should also say a lot about the musician and the album. Remember, you should make your CD packaging design thinking that no one knows you-that you are introducing yourself to the world for the very first time.

Popular musicians can include more expensive “freebies”, new musicians should not add something that’s more expensive than the album itself.
Freebies are supposed to be 100% free and should not increase the price of the actual album at all. Some popular musicians however include “freebies” but increase the amount of the album by a few dollars. Some very popular bands include collector’s items that are more expensive than the actual album-like t-shirts and toys- and still get plenty of sales. If you are a new and rising artist, adding real freebies (and by that real I mean, 100% free items) could be effective in increasing album sales. The consumer would instantly think that he’s getting more from what he’s paying. But do not include something that is more expensive than a key chain unless you have a major sponsor. Do not include something that would increase the price of your album significantly. Significant= $2 or more.

Popular musicians may or may not include a brief bio or discography inside the CD packaging, new musicians should.

A well-known band may or may not include a long info about them inside the CD packaging because well…they do not find it necessary anymore because most people already know them. It is very likely that they already have big websites and many people are following their every tweet. New artists, on the other hand, should maximize their CD packaging and use it as an avenue for self-promotion. New fans and friends of new fans get curious about you and would love to know you more. Introduce yourself and your music to the whole world. Afterall, you would not be doing this on your 4th or 5th album.

Popular musicians can sell merch, new musicians have to focus on their music first
You become an established musician simply because many people love your music. If many people love your music, you become famous. Only when you’re famous can you sell non-music items and get a good profit from it. One good example of this is the band KISS. Since the internet downloads and piracy are killing the music retail industry, they found a good way to earn using other means. They sell KISS collectibles like lunch boxes, t-shirts, toys, figurines, and many others. You cannot do this if you are still a new band. Who would want a figurine or toy from an anonymous band? Work on your music first before you sell nonmusic items.

Small Business Marketing Challenges in Expanding Retail Promotion

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

I do small business marketing! email: kurbpromo@gmail.com

I feel like I am being really challenged in business right now, and if you’re interested in how to face the challenges of marketing your business, feel free to read along, because as a full time entrepreneur who manages the marketing of my various businesses and services I’m always looking for a frameset that’s going to put me ahead

As the business evolves and grows, the challenges evolve and grow with it. In years past, it was all about operational systems to get the business running efficiently and then finding people to take over those systems, but now having grown from just me doing everything to an actual small organisation the frame has shifted completely.

Business is like a treadmill, it doesn’t matter how many miles you clock., if you’re not running you’re going to fall off.

That’s what I’ve found since I started employing, a made the positive step, I’m fighting to maintain the new position. So I’m making less money but I’m doing less work. Much less.

Ultimately we’re more productive but now comes the responsibility not only for management but ensuring turnover remains high enough to pay wages and other expenses that have grown. The employees will never br as proficient or efficient as I was, I accept that – but then they get half as much for doing the same job, they do the jobs they can do so I can focus on the things only I can do.

My first thouht is that maybe I need to blog in quick toughts to get to the point sooner.

Prioritize, analyze and then conclude.

I need a project to focus my spare time on because my employees have mostly got the cd duplication and colour printing under control. I need to put my time to something more constructive.

Music marketing is a good steady but it’s limiting because the clients expectations are so high.

I need something I can fully throw myself into such as the cd duplication. That’s the problem, I’d throw myself into that and I’d work away and make my money. Now all the wroks being done and there’s less money, I need to get into something else.

Not keeping up with my accounts and letting it dominate my thoughts has not been good, I need to keep up with whats going on and finally have all my tax and everything under control. It’s never been like that so it may just be a whole different environment once the wolves are at bay.

I’ve used the spare time to slowly sort my taxes and web designs out.

Maybe I am a little anxious but right around the corner is the first time where I won’t be worrying about my tax, my site will look attractive so there’s no nagging doubt about presentation, and I will still have only a few errands to run each day.

And just like this new keyword strategy I used, I can go back to using new techniques and trying brand new projects to expand earnings in key areas, or just do what I feel.

Lately I’ve been frustrated that I haven’t been earning as much, but really it’s a symptom of evolution.

I’ve created the space to grow and I must admit I’m a lot less stressed now then I have been in the last 2 years. But what next am I to grow in the space?

Am I going to push the ppc advertising? I’m not positive about it but it was something I was committed to. I think it’s silly to believe that spending an extra $50 p/week on adwords would not generate $50 extra in profit so it’s a worthwhile gamble, it’s just hard to swallow when the bills are coming in.

As I mentioned, I have time for seo tricks and I can always write a little, so seo can bump along, and more seo traffic cant hurt.

But what of the new project I can pour myself into? My thoughts return to retail. But what better options? I see now that I have one business that I manage virtually remotely, I need more. I could probably handle managing 3 businesses with an assistant.

What are the issues? Paying the rent obviously. This one’s $220 per week! That’s incentive. High traffic rd that’s a challenge. If my margin was 50% I’d only have to sell $73 worth of stock 6 days of 7 to pay the rent. $200 to pay someone to be there. $275 x 6 = $1650 turnover.

I really need to know what the vibe of the store will be, I want to call it #batch. It’s a place where you can get cheap plastics and technology and coffee and good food, you can pick up your printing and order cd and dvd’s- and of course there’ll be exclusive items from our clients and to that I would want to add more exclusive items that I also think that would be coolm that is really special products that people will drive by and say yup . . . I want that.

The point is even if it breaks even it will be creating exposure and sense of destination for my brand. there are lots of opportunities for retail marketing to explore.

You Always Know When: Printing and CD DVD Duplication

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Well I’ve been better! Not too bad but it’s a bumpy ride

Sorry I haven’t been in touch things have been a bit of a challenge for me also recently and you know I don’t want to sound like I’m too downcast, but I really thought I’d finally gotten on top of everything, that’s why I didn’t want to send bad news. I wanted to be talking about how everything was going great and I’d be able to come over and visit!

It’s really time for me to move on from K rd where I’ve been but I don’t want to make any more bad decisions on this! I’m trying to maintain my current staffing level but the margins have really been trimmed. I’m really trying to hold onto the faith that keeping the staff on will be the right move and it’s better for me to fight and hold the position rather than cutting back on staff jobs and withdrawing back to where I was, doing more myself.

I guess if I look for positives they’re not that hard to find. I’m not really having to work as hard as I have been, my health is much improved, no more asthma or that involuntary heart racing I was getting, and my back is fine other than being slack beause i dont have a proper workspace.

The mobile internet I got has been awesome, but its quite expensive. Often I’ll be on the move, have a lead come in in the morning, confirm the order, forward that to my staff or a supplier, then pick up and drop off in the afternoon without even having to go back to base, not being tied to the desk always calling me back is pretty cool.

I do get quite anxious about turnover being a bit slow when there’s staff on top of rent that I gotta pay for but just not really as angry and frustrated as I was feeling trapped in 10-12 hour daily slogs. There’s still niggly clients, people not paying, but it’s easier to deal with now. I’m almost caught up on my tax and all my fines over the years, so slowly there are some big boogeymen being dispatched. It’s just that bloody crash in coromandel from 98 thats stuffing up my credit still and making it hard to make moves.

But yeah, just quite anxious most days about the margins and having to manage a lot of “situations” that occur with staff and clients, a lot of my focus and energy is dissipated, I’m starting to think I really need to get serious about a new idea, retail or something I can really get my teeth into. Especially retail because I’ve got seb there sitting on his thumbs and I know that he’s great in a trust role as long as it’s not too intensive which is perfect for retail.

My top priority is getting into a new place but it weighs on me how important it is to make the right decision, back myself perhaps in a pricier place because at least i have some faith now that with sustained clarity and focus I can tackle these challenges. I can say a lot about marianne and seb but sheesh at least they left me the hell alone to do my work and do my thing!

Everyone else seems to want to have their beak in it and bring me down, when I’m trying to maintain that essential clarity and focus. It’s hard to feel like things are grinding down month after month.

I guess there’ll always be more challenges, thats what I lost sight of. I was just doing so well there for awhile, i thought I was finally “home and safe” but, hey. Subconsciously I knew that outside  I was vulnerable, and I only now do I realise the fight I’ve got on my hands to have a place where I can work and put my business first and that’s not upsetting anybody.

It’s good to hear you’re enjoying your work. I guess those guys have a lot more challenges to face than I do, but that’s just another reason to try and give the best I’ve got. And I am slowly learning to take action over wallowing, I guess it’s as you were saying about the use of the brain with your guys, the more I use my will to conquer feelings of defeat, the better I’m getting at it.

I guess you’ll know when it’s time to make the decision to come home. I’ve been lucky enough to have your love and support behind me over the years so it’s great you’re able to make a difference where you are right now.

Y’know I can’t help but think of all those board games and how learning to have the power in your mind to have an idea and make it happen was such an important gift.

cd dvd duplication

printing

Music Industry / Music Marketing: Give Music Away Free?

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Kurb Promotions Auckland, New Zealand for Music Marketing and CD Duplication

EMAIL: KURBPROMO@GMAIL.COM

No one’s arguing that the changes in the music industry haven’t tipped the scales in favor of the independents. Not only can you forge a path to success without the help of a label, you can choose from a variety of means to achieve it. But that leaves a number of questions on the table, including whether or not you ought to give your music away for free.

As an indie, CD and download sales can be a huge part of the equation in regard to your income. But building a rapport with new and existing fans and widening your reach by means of song giveaways is an easy and obvious way to get people to listen – and isn’t that ultimately what you’re trying to do?

For the indie artist, the scales seem to be tipping toward “yes!” on the question of free tracks. But before you go headlong into a giveaway frenzy, it’s worth listening to voices from both sides of the fence. And it’s always best to have a larger plan in mind. What follows are excerpts from a couple of books and blog posts that address some aspects of this debate. And we’re eager to see what comments come in from you, our intrepid readers. (I couldn’t help but insert a few of my own comments below).

(Do it!) Your Music Is Your Marketing
Excerpted from Music 3.0, Making Music in the Internet Age, by Bobby Owsinski.

The major marketing tool for an artist today is your music. It’s no longer the major product that the artist has to sell (although it still is a product), so it has to be used differently and thought of differently as a result.

Perhaps recorded music was never the product we were led to believe it was. With a vinyl record or CD, the container that holds the music is the product. While the songwriter always made money when a song was played on the radio, the artist never did, and the artist made only a small percentage of CD and vinyl sales (10-15% of wholesale, on average). [Keep in mind, he’s talking about the major/indie-label model here, not the indie/CD Baby model where you’re keeping all the proceeds from your gig sales and 60% or more of your retail sales.]

In fact, the artist made the most money on concert tickets and merchandise while touring. There was a cost involved in the manufacturing of the container that transported the music (physical material costs, artwork, and so on) that had to be recouped, as well as the production costs of the music. But if you look at music in terms of the advertising world, you see music in a different light.

If you’re selling a soap product, for instance, the production cost for a commercial to broadcast on television or the radio is trivial. It’s the total ad buy (the agency purchasing the radio or television time for the sponsor) where most of the money is spent. Even then, it’s considered part of the marketing budget of the product, which might be about 3% of total sales.

If you consider the music-production costs as part of the marketing budget in the same way as a national product, it takes on a whole new meaning. [That’s a mighty big leap, IMO.]. Since the music is considered the major marketing tool for an artist, it should be considered a free product, a giveaway, an enticement. Give it away on your website, place it on the Torrents for P2P, let your fans freely distribute it. It’s all okay. Since most millennials already feel that music should be free and have lived in a culture where that’s mostly so, don’t fight it. Go with the flow! Just as it was during the past 60 years, the real money in the music business is made elsewhere anyway. [Again, not necessarily for the indie artist.]

Further, just because you’re giving it away doesn’t mean that you can’t charge for it, either at the same time or at sometime in the future. There are numerous cases in which sales have actually decreased for an artist’s iTunes tracks when the free tracks have been eliminated.

One such musician is Corey Smith. After six years, Corey has built his gross revenue to about $4.2 million, and free music has been the basic building block of his tribe. You can buy his tracks on iTunes (he’s sold more than 400,000 so far), but when his management experimented by taking the free tracks down from his website, his iTunes sales went down as well! The free music Corey offers allows potential fans to try him out. If they email and ask for a song that’s not available for free, he just emails it back to them. He’s tending his tribe!

Another example of reaping the rewards for giving it away for free is the techno and electronica artist Moby, whose “Shot in the Back of the Head” became the best-selling iTunes track after he gave it away for free on his website for two months! Of course, you can charge for your music with enhanced products like box sets, compilations, special editions, and other value-added offerings. But the initial releases for an artist on any level (except for the already-established star) must be free to build a buzz.

(Don’t Do It!) The Value of Music
Excerpted from The Plain and Simple Guide to Music Publishing by Randall D. Wixen.

Music is a unique commodity with the ability to touch the soul or evoke an emotion or feeling. In a film, it might take minutes of dialogue or visual exposition to create a mood or tell a story, while music can instantly convey a mood and give cues to the director’s vision. Likewise, some sports – figure skating, for instance – would not be possible without music. Restaurants and stores set the ambiance for you by playing background music.

Yet in the music publishing industry, no day goes by without someone who recognizes the value of music nonetheless belittling its value, complaining about its cost, and trying to pay less than a fair fee. It is important that writers and publishers stand tall and recognize and respect the value of their own property. If they themselves fail to recognize the worth of their product, how can others be expected to see its worth and pay a reasonable price for it? [Mr. Wixen is speaking mostly about publishing with a focus on recognizable content in this section, but there are a lot of relevant points as they relate to you as artist devaluing your music.]

The media is full of articles about “file sharing” and how it hurts the music industry. What a nice euphemism, file sharing! Sharing is good, right? We are taught to share from the time we are little. But why does the media not do stories about the theft of intellectual property or copyright infringement? “File sharing” sounds so much more innocuous than “willful copyright infringement,” which, by the way, is a felony. If I steal your car, is that “ride sharing?” By spinning articles and headlines in this manner, the media contributes to the devaluation of songs and artists.

This is not a simple problem, with only one cause and one solution. While piracy and copyright theft each play an important role in this phenomenon, and while overpricing makes theft feel more justifiable, writers and publishers who lack enough self-respect to value their songs appropriately contribute to the problem.

“This Is a Low-Budget Production.” Almost every license request a music publisher receives includes somewhere in it, “This is a low-budget film, TV show, ad campaign, etc.” No one ever sends license requests that start off with, “This is a big-budget film, with two stars who are each getting $20 million and a director who won the Academy Award last year. We would like to use the ‘cherry’ of your catalog and pay you a really nice fee for doing so.” Budgets are low because people set them low. If there is no money in the music budget of a TV show, it is because the money they put into catering and hairdressing and makeup artists dwarfs the money allocated for music. Don’t stand for it! [Except of course, that if you turn down the opportunity, another act will step up and take it in a heartbeat.]

If you tried the same tactics in real life that are used in licensing music, you’d be laughed at. If you went into a Bentley dealership and said, “Gee, I sure like that $375,000 Azure, but I only have $30,000 to spend on a car, so do you think you could accept that?” you’d be shown the door along with some shoe leather. The idea that music has no intrinsic value leads to the proposal that “you should price your product according to our budget.” Don’t do it – especially if the song being inquired after is a standard, was a major hit, or has a lyrical or other connotation that is truly special. The situation may be different, though, if someone is inquiring about a generic punk song and the artist and song could be easily interchanged with many others. [Aha! That warrants a lot more consideration. Not to mention that none of your songs are generic, right?]

“It Will Be Good Exposure.” Once they get done telling you how low they’ve set their budget and how you have to conform to what they’ve predetermined, they will pull out the old “good exposure” argument. While the licensers themselves are only working for real dollars and maybe profit participation, they would like you to please take your compensation in the form of good exposure.

Vaudeville entertainer Sophie Tucker, so the story goes, was once offered a gig at far less than her normal fee. The reason she should do it, the argument went, was that it would be good exposure. “Exposure?” she is said to have replied. “Isn’t that what you die from?”

The worst cases of “licensing by exposure” lately seem to be in the realm of video-game music licensing. With games selling for $30 a pop and shipping 4-5 million units, you’d think they’d be able to spare more than $5,000 as a flat fee to license a song. Let’s do some made-up math.

Let’s see, that’s around $150 million in gross over-the-counter revenue, and maybe half filters back to the game developer. And paying $5,000 for each of 50 songs would be $250,000. And double that fee to clear the master recordings, so we’re up to $500,000 out of the $75 million. It doesn’t seem fair, does it, when music is so integral to the game? Why not at least pay a royalty instead of a flat fee? We’re just now starting to see meaningful royalties on video games in lieu of flat one-time buyouts.

Unfortunately, some potential users will not be willing or able to pay a fair fee. But for the long-term health of the music, it is important not to devalue the song by licensing it for whatever a user offers. Bentley would go out of business if its dealers negotiated car sales that way, and so will you.

(Do IT!) Free Music = Free Advertising = Smart Business
Excepted from blog posts by Dexter Bryant, Jr

Free music is free advertising. Think of free songs as product samples: the music-buying public samples your product at no cost. For those who don’t care for your music (no matter what the reason) they can easily sever their relationship with you and your product right then and there.

For the people who like your product, they can easily dig deeper and sample some more of your music to get a better feel for your identity and what your brand represents. From there they can decide whether their values align with yours and if they would like to continue their relationship with you. If you and a potential fan are birds of a feather (so to speak) then chances are they will be ready to forge a deeper bond with you and take your relationship to the next level.

Free music increases the potential for engagement with audiences because anyone can participate. Free eliminates risk and lowers the barrier to entry for consumers. If I may use a food-related metaphor, your songs are the appetizers that will lure audiences to dine with you for a full meal – free mixtapes/EPs/CDs/whatever. [Sounds good, but restaurants charge for appetizers, too!]

A full meal provides your audience with a clearer picture of your overall vision and your artistic identity. If people really enjoy your meal(s) then they will seek yet another option (or options) for consuming the deliciousness that you offer. These additional options for engagement with you include live music, merchandise, premium products, and any unique experiences that you can offer your hungry, eager fan base.

In short, free songs lure consumers to sample your free mixtapes, and free mixtapes are the bait to lure fans to spend money on live music, merchandise, deluxe edition mixtapes, and premium-priced music products and experiences. At every stage in this chain your product must gratify whatever desires your audience is seeking to fulfill, otherwise they may be inclined to discontinue their relationship with you. [This all speaks to having a larger plan in mind.]

Give the Customers What They Want. When a song or artist has captured someone’s interest enough that he or she seriously considers a purchase from that artist, many of us will download the music for free before we buy it. This allows us to become intimately familiar with that piece of music so we can be absolutely sure that buying it will be worthwhile. However, as you all know, downloading one simple song can sometimes be a more frustrating process than need be –navigating through treacherous, spam-infested illegal download sites and P2P software for just a few minutes of free music to put on your iPod.

Eliminate this pain point for your customers and you will endear yourself to them. Let your fans have the option of downloading for free or purchasing downloads from you and make it easy for people to download your music for free right from the same online destination they can buy it from: your website.

Music Industry Shifts to Online Music Promotion

Friday, March 19th, 2010

What is an artist to do when people no longer pay $19.99 for a compact disc? Driving down the road the other day, while listening to the satellite radio, I wondered, why anyone even purchased over priced CD’s from the record store at all? I am assuming that the music industry is shifting or possibly being shoved. The amazing thing is that there are millions of artists out there who aren’t even worrying about getting a record deal. They are paving their own path to success with online music promotion.

Some recording contracts pay pennies on the dollar for royalties stemming from the sale of CDs. It is true, a recording contract does equal publicity and all that jazz but some artists are tired of waiting. The music promotion resources available on the Internet have me wondering why all independent artists don’t stop focusing all their energy on getting signed and focus on what they can do for themselves in the present? Live in the now!

Online music promotion is the absolute wave of the future for musicians. I mean, the ability to create your own site, get a MySpace site, sell their music online through Indie artists site is just the beginning. Marketing yourself and your music is the way to go and eventually, if your goal is getting signed then more power to you.

Independent music promotion is more popular than ever because of the music promotion resources that are unbeatable. Booking and playing gigs is absolutely thrilling. But it is even more thrilling to book a high paying gig as a result of effective online music promotion. Don’t sit back and let others take your piece of the pie. It is just too easy now a day to grab that piece on your own.

Generating profits, attracting thousands of fans, booking gigs and taking home a huge share of the dough is not uncommon for the unsigned artist anymore. Get a website, network, get a MySpace page, send your link to media, sell MP3s, blog and write newsletters. Don’t let any thing slide under the table because it is too easy to succeed with online music promotion today!

Independent music promotion is the way to go because it can and will generate profits. Get your act together and start selling that music online. Focus on new technology such as MP3’s, mini-DVD’s and booking fabulous gigs because that is where the cash it! Music promotion resources have never been better so take advantage of everything the digital age has to offer!

The Reality of Getting a Record Deal / Music Manager in 2010

Monday, March 15th, 2010

I was once told a story about Bill Murray and Hunter S. Thompson. I can’t verify the specifics of the story but I suppose for the purposes of this article it doesn’t much matter. During the production of the 1980 Film “Where the Buffalo Roam”, in which Murray was to play a young Hunter Thompson, he met Hunter poolside so he could get a good idea of what the famously eccentric writer was really like. In response to the question “What is it like to be you?” Thompson tied Murray up to a deckchair and threw him in the pool.

Such is the position of most artists in the music business – floundering in the water and trying their damndest not to drown in spite of overwhelming circumstances.

I run a music business consultancy called Musician Coaching which was something I put together after having been a musician on and off for twenty years and having done A&R at Major labels for almost a decade. As a result of actively promoting this business I get contacted by several strangers every day who are looking to make it in the music industry. It never ceases to amaze me that in this day and age with all of the tools now available to artists that people are still looking for that one person, that one opportunity or a chance encounter that is going to propel them to superstardom. That’s not to say that I mind being contacted – far from it! It’s just that the type of questions I get can be really disturbing. “Can you get me a record deal?” or “Hey – I just need a manager and I’m going to make millions! You need to introduce me to great managers.”

Really? Last I checked it was 2010.

Chances are if you are reading this – it doesn’t apply to you but from what I have seen this is still the prevailing mindset of many aspiring artists. I believe those with this mindset won’t make it – period.

In my opinion if you are going to make a living making music – let alone “making it”- you have to own the following:

· There is no help coming for you

· The age of the “big break” is all but over.

· The one person who will help your career more than anyone is you.

Harsh? Yes. Hopeless? Not at all.

Let this empower you. You no longer need to spend a great deal of time chasing management, booking agents or labels. I am not suggesting that any of these types of strategic partners aren’t helpful but I do find that many artists seek to engage partners far too early in the trajectory of their careers. Before you seek out someone to partner with you ask yourself the following questions:

· Have you played out locally on a regular basis for at least six months?

· Do you have a corporate entity and an intra-band agreement?

· Have you trademarked your name?

· Are you registered with a Performance Royalties Organization? (ASCAP, BMI, SEASAC)

· Do you have a professional looking website for your project and a presence on social networks?

· Have you made “no apology” recordings of your songs that you think are representative of your ability?

· Do you have a bio on your musical career that doesn’t peak when you were eight years old and taking piano lessons?

· Do you maintain an ongoing online and offline positive relationship with a large group of people you could call fans without feeling funny about it or including your parents and extended family?

If you answered no then your business is not yet off the ground. You don’t yet have a viable and fully formed product. In any business it is very difficult to get an investment for a blueprint concept or an idea. Getting funding for a start up business becomes much easier the more time and effort (and money) the entrepreneur puts into it. You have to remember that seeking out management, agents or labels is asking someone to invest in you. It might not be financial investment but the amount of time a partner like this would need to devote to developing an artist’s career is usually a full time job. What do you bring to the table other than your talent?

It’s true – people who interact with artists a great deal are often jaded (Yes, me too. Couldn’t you tell?) The failure rate in music and the arts in general is astounding. If you really want to get the attention of competent and experienced handlers you have to be the one to get your career moving on your own. If you make enough noise long enough people will find you. Overnight successes that are examined closely are very rarely (as in go by lotto tickets instead) a case of someone being struck by the thunderbolt of fame whilst daydreaming and smoking dope in the parent’s basement.

What’s the good news? There are now plenty of sites that provide information and insight and dozens of tools to help you get your music heard for low or no cost. This makes it harder to rise above all of the noise (because everyone with a mic can be a singer in this day and age) but it is still a viable way to start.

Go find other artists and build a community. Relationships with your peers when starting out are usually more valuable than industry relationships. If you are able to surround yourself with several developing artists who are in your situation and perhaps even endear yourself to people who have put in a bit more legwork than you this will help a great deal. Being able to market yourself to the fans of similar acts is almost the whole name of the game in the beginning so along those lines – go make friends!

Long story short (too late?) – before you spend time and effort chasing big league help, make sure you have maxed out your ability to do everything within your reach to convert strangers to friends, friends to fans and fans to fans who will actually purchase your products. If you do that long enough and well enough even in a small town – industry will find you.

Good luck out there,
Rick

Commercial Opportunities for Marketing and Promotions Services Auckland

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

I am getting really excited about potential of having a commercial space you know it could really fix a lot of the problems we have here at kurb so I’m looking for that perfect spot.

What are the positives I’m looking forward to if we have a new spot to conduct all of our kurb business under one roof?

Well firstly I could live there, there’s a kitchen and shower, – no washing machine I guess, but that’s enough and I could possibly have other people staying. That’s what I’m thinking I could go halves with somebody else in business.

There’s a number of options there – I know a creative friend who could move in, or maybe even one of my employees, or I could go for another business or just a flatmate. My objective is to raise $3-400 so we’ll look at the options later.

Also it’s a commercial space and there’s plenty of it for storing, working whatever – no it doesn’t have main street frontage – in fact despite being on the city fringe it’s really tucked away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still do a little bit of retailing as it still is in the city and it’s close to khyber pass one of the busiest roads in the country. It would be a great drop off and pick up point for clients.

Also for creative ideas it would amazing to have all that space – there’s plenty of room for building a video set to push forward my video stuff or have a practice space or even have gigs and parties or some kind of event.

But it comes back to one thing, if I am to carry on the lease I am going to need an extra $400 income. I can sublet the space, or I can look at other ways I could use the space to make extra money.

Ideas include:

rent 2 of the carparks for $40 p/week

band practice space – 5 evening a week I could make $150 for band practices

Event or gig – an event we hold monthly could generate up to $1000

pirate zone – what if I bought the pirates to me 12pm – 4 pm every saturday and sunday, $10p/hour p/child, 20 kids a day for 2 hours = $400 p/day!

Straight retail – this would take work, but the fact that we could store a lot of materials mean we could slowly build this up to make $100-200 p/week.

But also it would mean we have the space to conduct more extensive video shoots for clients.

But the fact that we have so much space means there’s always space for setting up another operation just to see how it goes.

What would be the realistic “ultimate” situation?

Having

somebody who pays $200-250 for general use of the space. = $250 p/week

Having 2 bands and 2 parks who both pay $40 p/week to practice/park = $160 p/week

Have one event p/month to raise $1000 = $250 p/week

Build up retail to the tune of $100 p/week = $100 p/week

That would more than cover the rent alone!

So the living situation I could have 2 people staying and charge them $400 but I wouldn’t have much control over the space for things practices and events. Events and practices that kind of thing would take a bit of effort, it would be a matter of trying different things, seeing what comes up, and going with it but I am pretty confident I can raise the funds with 3 months to prepare.

I have already begun writing an ad even though I dont know if it will be available.

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Want to live or work or both in a massive crusty warehouse on the edge on the Mt. Eden edge of the cbd – we’re doing funky creative new school business and we’re looking for someone to share this space in a fully productive way. So whether you’re steaming ahead in creative and industrious way, or just keen to sit back in amidst the buzz with cool people who are doing their thing in a different way – get in touch!

Looking for someone most likely of independent means to share a space on the city fringe / eden terrace.

I am completely open to negotiation over whether you want to use this space for commercial or residence or both, and how much room you would need, but ultimately I’m looking for someone who will respect the fact that this is my place of business foremost as well as my home – there’s plenty of space but it would be wise to make sure our activities compliment each other –

noisy machinery probably wouldn’t fit that well with me working in the front office.

The thing about this space is well, the space. If you’re looking for a place to get creative and industrious then this is it, there’s plenty of room for private space, workshop space and the kitchen is part of a large mezzanine