Friday, February 24

Right, we're off to have baby.

So, we're having another baby, apparently this means I'm going to be really busy for a few days, Citizen is going to limp through, but the HelloCitizen blog will have to take a back seat.

I'll be back in a couple of weeks. Wish us luck...

Thanks for reading.

Or call 07738 175 614

Monday, February 20

The Inside Underground: The Future of Music Marketing.

Recently I conducted a Q&A for the Access to Music course, we focussed on Social Media, and Marketing, it was a pretty lively session and the students seemed engaged, and had a lot of questions which highlighted a slight shift Social Marketing, and threw up some interesting ideas and concepts that I'd like to talk about.

An artist accepting that they're a commodity, and offering a targeted market product is a dangerous and repulsive concept. It's always been safer and cooler for artists to ignore this, and let the record company deal with it, but increasingly that isn't possible, for a start there probably isn't a the record company support there, and if there is, there certainly aren't the budgets in place there use to be.

What's happening today is artists rebadging the concept of marketing and making this corporate activity more socially acceptable, and this is happening through Social Media. In spaces like Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter bands are happy to talk about themselves and their music, knowing that this distribution of energy will generate new fans to their music naturally. It's easier to control this engagement and it doesn't feel like a corporate activity, but honestly it is, and it works in exactly the same way as a big corporation selling a product.

Finding a Social Audience for a band starts with remarkable content, there's no audience for shit music, except in Germany (that's not true, I don't even know what it means). With a good product in place you have the foundations for a simple effective Social Strategy that can drive people to you. I was asked in my session how somebody who writes from a darker place that's reflective of their neurosis is going to suddenly start Tweeting and Blogging about bight, happy issues to draw people in, but they're really missing the point of the communication. If your music is centered in a certain place, then it's only going to be engaging to people from a similar mindset, and they would be drawn in by a Social Strategy that is reflective of that way of life. Like everything it's about being yourself and hoping there's other people like you, because how ever large or small that group is, it always exists and this defines your market, and ultimately your success.

In the past the size of your potential market made a huge difference to how likely you were to forge a career, Swedish Doom House for example has a relatively small market, and is unlikely to attract record company investment. With social empowerment, coupled with the repositioning of the ideas behind the activity mean that bands can do more to self serve their product and reach their potential audience quicker, than just playing live up and down the country in the vein hope of playing to someone that gets them. In principal it could mean bands would be more selective about their shows, and the shows they do have could be communicated directly to an engaged audience and ultimately be more successful.

That's said, it's really important for bands to understand these techniques and actually do the groundwork themselves, because leaving an intern at the record company to tweet for you will probably lead to the kind of contrived messages Lana Del Ray posted proclaiming herself to be a 'Gangster Nancy Sinatra', and a disingenuous strategy is worse than no social strategy at all.

For me the really interesting question this brings up is the possibility of bands never playing live, to actually be in a successful band that only exists digitally and never ventures out of their home studio.

Bands will slog their guts out touring with other bands and playing anywhere that will put them on in the hope of exposing themselves to wider audience, but that seems fruitless in comparison to being in a band that sounds like 'Sleigh Bells', finding their Titter account, following everyone that follows them and pushing your music directly to people you know are going to be interested. Reaching a wider audience is now literally that easy, and with dedication and a strategy can be easily achieved.

Obviously what this doesn't consider is the fact bands love playing live, and everything that goes with that experience from the sticky stages to the showing-off, and that's never going to change, but what it opens up is exposure for the bands that can't get out, or don't want to. For every 100 bands desperate to set foot on the stage, there has to be 10 that just aren't interested, and this presents them a world of possibilities, and could spawn an Inside Underground scene of unseen heroes.

In broad terms vinyl was the first to go, then cassettes then CDs quickly died, and the music video followed it, then the record companies all withered away, until then live music seemingly saved the day, but when the greed creeps in, and the venues became all powerful, what if they died too? What if all we were left with were artists recording songs directly for people who liked them, in a way that's almost primeval, a return to the very basic concepts of music, devoid of gimmickry, the clutter of marketing and the fog of hype. Sounds amazing to me.

If you'd like to speak to Citizen about your Social Strategy please get in touch for a free consultation.

Monday, February 13

Colour of Nature

Making a colour palette is one thing I really enjoy, I picked up a really good tip from Peter Saville which I've demonstrated above, and that is to take pictures of natural scenes, and use a dropper to take colours out of it, this way you can harness the natural harmony of Nature, and make a colour palette that always works together, after all nature never makes a scene that doesn't work does it? Everything natural looks... 'natural', and this is always pleasing to the eye.

I had this conversation with my brother, and he raised a good point. Do the colours look good together because Nature has a magic power to put colours together that work on a scientific level, that our brains interpret as harmonious, or do our brains interpret those colours as working together because we've seen them together in nature, and we've been conditioned to think this is natural harmony?

Of course traditional colour theory can place complimentary colours together, but this doesn't always hold together when nature gets involved, there are no rules to how natural blends occur, but we always accept them as harmonious. On the page, it can be very difficult to randomly bring a selection of colours together and make them work as a brand palette.

For me Nature Colour Theory is a bit of a cheat mode to making lush, interesting colour palettes, have a go, let me know how you get on.

Or call 07738 175 614

Wednesday, February 8

Mind Frog

It only occurred to me the other day that not everyone has an opinion on everything that look at. Having only ever lived in my own head I'm comfortable with the fact that absolutely everything I look at I make a snapshot judgement of;

Door knob, way too 80's
Hair, would look better shorter
Iron, looks to aerodynamic, round it off
Pencil, really like the way the rubber tones in with the wood
V5C Form, Nice use of salmon against the blue
Repositioning Spray Tin, badly typeset, boring palette

This list could go on and on, I literally never stop and to be honest, it's really annoying. I wish I could turn it off because I think it's wearing my brain out unnecessarily, I mean I've never been that bright, I've always managed to get by on a limited brain capacity and I don't want what I have to be wasted on making pointless judgements about the colour of a rubber in contrast to it's pencil.

Although I have to admit however that sometimes it's helpful, sometimes in the panic of a brief one of these seeming useless bits of information will slip back in to my head and inspire me, it's impossible to use this information logically to categorise it and pull it up resourcefully, it's just a massive jumble of crap that occasionally drops a sprinkle of gold dust onto something I'm working on.

Most of the time I'd say it was a burden, it's exhausting but I think it's something that all designers do. Once in an interview I told the candidate; "when I go out, I look at everything, I make judgements on design everywhere, and criticise everything graphic I look at, it gives me a headache, do you do this...?"

Their answer was a specular 'No'. at which point I wrapped the interview up and said we'd be in touch. Of course, we never got in touch. Seriously, at least present you're interested in design!

Maybe this is the way designers minds work, perhaps this is why I can never remember a shopping list longer than 3 items, but I'll be able to tell you intricate details about the design of ten labels of Tomato Purée, and it's definitely the reason Karen never send me shopping on my own.

Or call 07738 175 614

Tuesday, February 7

PPH Blog

I know that my blogs haven't been as regular these days, for that I'm sorry, but there are only a certain amount of hours in the day, and for that I'm not sorry.

I've been commissioned to write for the PPH blog until later in the year, so that's taking up a lot of my writing time and ideas, take a look at some of my posts over there.

Or call 07738 175 614

Wednesday, February 1

Crimpington Post

The simple ideas are always the best, and sometimes the ones you would never consider to be interesting to anyone else and totally barnstorming.

This week the creative team behind The Torygraph invited me to have a look at The Crimpington Post. I'll be honest, to start with I though it was stupid, backs of head, then fronts of head WFT? But then I found myself scrolling through all the images and noticed that from the backs of the heads I started to develop an expectation of that the faces looked like, then on the reveal I was generally wrong. This is genuinely engaging, and a simple idea that a lot of people will find interesting.

It helps that the photography is beautify crisp, and the street models are characterful. It's great example of engaging content and a really human level, and once again honoured to be a part of it (I formatted the blog and created the masthead for them).

Now what could that bloke look like... take a click though and see The Crimpington Post.

Or call 07738 175 614