Thursday, March 30, 2006

How your clubbing blog can make you money

As you may have noticed before, I'm all for blogging. I think it's a great way to build a community and make you stand out.

Blogging is a way of 'flipping the funnel' in the cutthroat clubbing industry sure, but it can also make you money.

There are many people who make money from blogging. In very simple terms, they do so because they have found an audience and they run adverts to that audience.

Clubs, record labels and promoters have a potential audience in their existing fan base. There is some cash to be made.

How do you do it?

There are plenty of pages on the net devoted to showing you how. Problogger is one of the best and I strongly recommend you delve into the archives there for a full picture.

I'm not going to steal his thunder, but here are the basics:

    • Have great content: This is the hard part. What you write on your blog need to be interesting and relevant or people will just stop coming. You won't have anyone to advertise to. Dry press releases or information alone is not enough. You need something new and interesting all the time.
    • Have relevant adverts: You can make money based on the number of people who click on ads and buy stuff. There are plenty of people who will help you run ads on your blog. Google Adsense and Amazon are good places to start. Just make sure what you advertise is relevant to your readers. If it's not they won't click and you won't make any money.
    • Ask for donations: Services like Paypal allow you to add a "donate" button to your blog. If you are giving people good quality content for free, plus they love what you do offline, many will put their hand in their virtual pocket for you.
    • Merchandise: Merchandising and music have always gone hand in hand. You can sell your own stuff if you are organised enough, or you can use a service like Cafepress to add your logo onto all kinds of crap.


    The real key though is to stick at it.

    It takes a long time to build a fan base in itself, and it's hard to win them over to become regulars on your blog. But if you build up a niche of a few hundred fans you have enough to start making a nice side income.



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    Wednesday, March 29, 2006

    The dillemma of sniffer dogs


    If there were one symbol to represent the insanity of clubbing the sniffer dog would be it.

    To fill legal requirements festivals bring them out every year to find some evil drug takers. It’s their job to catch out clubbers.

    The signal is clear: Come and take drugs at our festival if you wish. Just don’t get caught.

    Never was this juxtaposition brought home to me more than at Homelands one year. While walking in, we were first attacked by PR people offering free samples of iced tea, then funnelled into a single file so the sniffer dogs could check us.

    Come in, come in, spend money, be a target demographic. YOU EVIL DRUG
    SCUM.

    It doesn’t really work as a marketing message does it?

    But that is the dillemma. Dogs show the world that big festivals are law abiding. The culture of dance music is anything but law abiding and none of the big names want to mention it.

    Does it mean that while dogs and drugs exist the industry will never be taken seriously? Maybe, but we can still be a serious industry even if we are not considered as one, just a very unique one.

    And unique sells almost as well as drugs do.

    Sunday, March 26, 2006

    Musicubes - another way to spread the word

    Radio One have an interesting viral toy called Musicubes. They allow you to share your musical tastes with the world and tell your friends about the service.

    Here is mine:

    Adblock


    It would be interesting to see a clubbing brand try something similar.

    Tuesday, March 21, 2006

    Content is filtered in, adverts are filtered out

    People, especially clubbing people, are very savvy to ‘marketing ploys’. They also love great content. A great message will spread by itself across clubland.

    We experienced it with the infamous Glastowank which spreak like wildfire. Pete Tong also agrees.

    Stuff like this shows that the most important tool of any promotional campaign is the quality of the content. Music, websites, radio, blogs, club nights, EVERYTHING.

    That’s why we are constantly striving to make our content better, more interesting, funnier and downright great. It’s paying off with a big spike in people visiting the site.

    People are in contact with thousands of messages every day and they are filtering you out. What are you giving them that gives them a reason to filter you in?



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    What do you do with your regular fans?

    Fabric don’t have a fan club, but they do have a lot of fans.

    So why are they not building a community around them? As the church of the customer put it:

    [a fan club is] a community of validation. It's official recognition of a relationship. It's a relationship network. It's a word-of-mouth ecosystem. It's the test-marketing forum for new ideas, products and strategies.

    Does your club night or label or business have regulars? Are they in your fan club? Are they spreading the word without your interference? That’s what fan clubs do.

    If not, don’t worry you don’t need to start making posters and badges. But you can make them feel special.

    What ideas do you have for turning your fans into your salesmen?

    What Fabric need to do

    Fabric in London is a great club, and a very clever brand. They keep an "underground" feel while filling a massive club and selling lots of CDs. But they do't quite have their web promotion right.

    Actually, that is a little harsh. They are better than most. The website is cool and functional. They do discounts on their CDs if you subscribe. Where they have missed a trick is their blog.

    At the moment the blog is for press infomation and simple posts pictures/press releases. This might be a great resource for the media, but what a trick that has been missed!

    Imagine if they used the blog to start a conversation with people in the press instead of just posting dry press information. They could build a community of like minded hacks based around their blog.

    How much more press would they get if journalists are making it a habit to visit the Fabric blog?
    How much better can they make the brand by doing the same thing for punters? There is a latent desire there. I know because Fabric is by far the most request club for reviews and pictures (and also the least likely to give press access).

    Sure, it would be hard work. But it's cheaper than traditional advertising and more effective.

    That's what Fabric need to do.

    Sunday, March 19, 2006

    Not all clubbers are equal

    How many 'tribes' are there in clubland?

    It's a question which is almost impossible to answer. things move fast and people, especially clubbing people, hate to be boxed off. One thing is certain though. Not all nights are for all people.

    Promoters can utilise this knowledge to fill a club.

    In dryer marketing terms it's called "knowing your niche" and it's the subject of this marketing article on about.com. Hard house nutters will not be found at a minimal techno night very often. The key factor that promoters can use is the 3 point process:

    1. Write out a profile of her "perfect customer", i.e., those most likely to be interested in buying her product. What other products do they buy? What do they do for a living? What's their income level? Are they male or female? Young, old or somewhere in between? What do they do for fun?

    2. What appeals to this person about your product or service? Now you can hone your message. What motivates this person? Health? Wealth? Beauty? Adventure? Relaxation? Now that you've narrowed it down, you can focus on a strong, simple message that appeals to this person.

    3. Where can you reach this person? What periodicals do they read? Where do they go for fun? Do they attend business networking events, and if so, which ones? Where do they hang out online? Or do they just surf, and if so, where?

    How many promoters heed this advice and laser in on the type of clubber they want? How many rely on traditional methods like posters and flyers and hope that if they get enough out someone will notice?

    Will targeting make the difference between a successful night and a failure? Maybe, maybe not. But finding a niche and sticking to it is cheaper, easier to control and more intuitive.

    All clubbers are not equal, so why promote like they are?



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    Friday, March 17, 2006

    Pete Tong talks to Gurn.net

    After a very long wait we finally got the Pete Tong interview online. Pete talked to us about podcasting.

    If you want to help promote this article you can do it by clicking the "Bookmark this page in del.icio.us" link.

    As I know blog readers like the inside track I thought I would post the mp3 of Pete talking to Meza outside a windy studio so you can get a feel of what he actually said.

    You can find the mp3 here

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    Dance music writing: dancing about architecture


    I have just finished off a feature on Terry Church (editor of djmag.com). Hopefully some budding writers will pick up on it and get in touch. Are you one of them?

    Until the article goes live, I thought it might be interesting to get the raw Q&A published too. It was a good interview, although I’m not sure about his thoughts on blogging. What do you think?

    An interview with Terry Church

    First of all can you tell me a bit about who you are and what you do in your own words.
    I'm a music journalist for DJ Magazine, and editor of the mag's website DJmag.com. I'm also a sleep-deprived DJ and clubber who burns the candle at both ends.

    Are you a DJ who writes or a writer who DJs?
    Both. At school, English was my best subject, and rather strangely, I enjoyed writing big essays on politics and history. But since the age of 14, I've been DJing and it's something of an obsession. I'm very lucky that I get to write about my obsession - I love my job, and not many people can say that.

    How did you get into writing for DJ Mag?
    I blagged it. I bumped into the editor of DJmag (Lesley Wright) at an awards bash once, and hassled her for a job. She told me to piss off, but the next week I spotted her again, and begged for work experience. After six months of hassling and bumping into each other in nightclubs, she eventually gave in, and offered me some work experience. During the placement, I wrote some club reviews and news articles, and that became a regular thing. Then eventually DJmag asked me if I'd like to be website editor. At the time I was training to be a journalist, and all my university mates couldn't believe that I was working for this cool music magazine already.

    How long have you been writing?
    Professionally, for four years.

    What other writing have you done?
    I've worked for local newspapers, doing news and political stories. I got to interview MPs in the House of Commons, and do crime reporting, but ultimately I found music journalism more challenging and much more fun.

    Have you got any tips for people trying to get into dance music journalism?
    There are very few professional dance music media outlets, so if you're not a good writer, you won't get a job. Having passion for dance music is not enough. Be prepared to do work experience for a long time.

    Whose writing do you enjoy?
    Hunter S. Thompson, Dan Brown, and Chaucer are brilliant. Academically, I always find Anthony Giddens and Jean Baudrillard fascinating. And at DJmag, I always piss myself at the latest Spank The Monkey column.

    What do you think about blogging?
    Blogging is great, but ultimately it is a bit useless. The first casualty of today's 24/7 globalised communication system was context. There's too much information, and too many blogs on the web to ever be taken at face value.

    What about podcasting?
    I love new technology, and podcasting is cool. But most of them are too amateurish and badly produced. Anyone can make a podcast, and so that means a lot of them are rubbish. Over time, hopefully investment will lead to more professional-sounding podcasts.

    What are the other hot issues in clubland at the moment?
    There are a few hot issues at the moment, like how the smoking ban will affect clubland. The new digital DJ license is causing a stir amongst DJmag's readers, and the relaxed licensing laws have meant a strange shift in clubland towards the perpetual. Now in London, you can go clubbing practically 24 hours a day, from Thursday to Monday.

    What are your ambitions?
    To be happy.

    How are you going to achieve them?
    By doing whatever it takes. We're all in charge of our own destinies, Daniel son.

    What is the most important rule of writing on the web?
    Writing for the web is exactly the same as writing for newspapers. Write clearly, concisely, and thoughtfully. Amateurs write a lot of dance music journalism on the web, and it shows.

    What are the best and worst parts of your job?
    I get in to most clubs free, sometimes get free booze, and get to hang out with superstar DJs. I love my job, but I don't sleep much, and don't earn a fortune.

    Sunday, March 12, 2006

    Clubbing holidays for grown ups

    The Observer has spotted that not every clubber wants to go to Ibiza anymore. Especially as crowds get older.

    The feature - Clubbing holidays for grown-ups, covers the growth of holidays that combine all night parties with more exotic locations and luxurious surroundings.

    It's certainly a trend we have noticed on Gurn in the last couple of years as members get that little bit older. Some of the most popular events have been the ones that offer a little more in the way of luxury, but don't comprimise on the hedonism.

    Is this a growing market that has not been tapped fully yet?




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    Saturday, March 11, 2006

    How to take your successful club night to the world

    New contributor Nina has dropped in a great feature about how the Immaculate Touch promoters have taken their party worldwide.

    Take heed if you are a promoter. How To Go Global

    The best clubbing books - Part Two

    Ministry are the biggest brand in clubland, so it's no suprise they have a book chronicaling the development of modern clubland. Unlike Altered State, Ministry of Sound - The Book is less social historical account and more about dipping into every aspect of club culture.

    If you have a coffee table, this book wouldn't be out of place on it. Well designed with great pictures it has magazine style articles, lists and quotes galore. It's the story of the brand, but it's wrapped so carefully around club culture that most of the time you can barely tell if Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton are talking about MoS or clubbing in general.

    It's the type of book you buy if you don't read books. You can pick out the bits you want and enjoy the entire package.






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    The best clubbing books - Part One

    Thursday, March 09, 2006

    A day in the life of a clubbing website

    It’s a big week in Gurn HQ this week. The boss is away and I’m in charge. So what a good opportunity to give you an outline of what we do day to day here.

    Without further ado, here is a typical day in the life of Gurn.net (if anything can be called typical):

    8:30am – I work from home, so I fire up the laptop and check my emails. Although there are about 50 that have come in overnight, most are adverts for club nights, spam or don’t need dealing with. I check my to do list for pressing stuff.

    9:00amI notice there is a typo in a Circus review that has gone up last night so I correct the error and whip off a couple of emails to the chap who uploads the content.

    Then it’s time for the first major project of the day, so with a nice big cuppa in hand I write up some marketing emails to go out to members and promoters.

    We are trying to improve the the number of repeat visits to the site once people have joined and this project is the main part of that.

    10:30am – I call some promoters interested in doing advertising on the site, then I draw up a quote for a mailshot.

    After a quick IM chat with a couple of Gurn members (I’m always on MSN and Skype) I call Godskitchen about some Hi:Fi Festival arrangements.

    11:00am – I start to go through our news feeds trying to pick out the juicy stuff and avoid the press releases for our news section. Not much going on today, but it still takes about 30 minutes to sift through it.

    11:30am – I get some calls from more people interested in running some ads. 2 record labels this time, one a potential new customer – CR2 records, one existing. I quote some prices.

    12:00pm – Frustratingly, my emails stop working. Luckily it’s only a temporary glitch and I have it sorted in a few minutes.

    In the meantime I get an urgent call from the Gurn.net team of lawyers that is a bit of a headache. Everything stops while I sort out this pressing matter.

    1:30pm – Grab a bite to eat with my little boy. The great (and bad) part of working from home is you get to see your family instantly if you want to, but it can effect productivity so I’m very strict on seeing him only at lunch and after 5. As you can imagine, he doesn’t agree!

    2:00pm – Good news after lunch, Kinky Malinki confirm that they will be running an ad with us this week.

    On the back of the success I clean out my email inbox (I only check it twice a day to avoid getting bogged down) and do some more work on our Hi:Fi Festival project.

    3:00pm – Another payment comes in for a mailshot. I figure it’s time to setup the mail server to send our weekly newsletter and a dedicated mail out for a hard house night in Manchester.

    Once that’s done I knock up the invoices for the days sales so far. I also deal with a few more emails related to new content. We have a couple of new writers in the pipeline that do great work. I’m hoping the will come on board so I’m schmoozing them.

    4:30pm - I make a long call to Marc Vedo at Koolwaters about us working together on various things. Marc is a long time supporter of Gurn.net and does a lot of tour nights with us. He's also a top bloke and DJ.

    I email Godskitchen for a Hi:Fi festival update and whip up a couple of thank you notes.

    5:00pm – I log off to spend some time with the boy, go for a run and get some food.

    8:30pm – I check my emails in front of the TV and answer whatever is left from the day. I also use this time for some boring admin work and updating the blog. I check the forums to see what’s happening. Finally I make a start on a couple of features I have been meaning to do.

    11:00pm – I’m not a night person so I pack it in, have a quick mess about on a game on the PC and tuck myself up in bed.


    I got about 6 work related "things" done today, which might not sound like much but I reckon that’s a pretty productive day, especially as I got to spend time with the family and get my fitness quota in.

    See you tomorrow!





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    What is your reputation like?


    What people are saying about you is more important than ever.

    That’s why you should read this post by Andy Beal if you are involved in the clubbing industry. As he puts it:



    Every single day, someone, somewhere is discussing something important to your business. Your brand, your executives, your competitors, your industry. Are they hyping-up your company, building buzz for your products? Or, are they criticizing your service, complaining to others about your new product launch?


    How are you dealing with this?

    Are you using all the tools at your disposal?

    If you are not then you are missing a massive opportunity to get comments from the very people who love you the most.

    And more importantly, limit the damage when something goes wrong (something always goes wrong).

    As usual, if you want more on this subject then get in touch. I’m happy to give free advice if it helps make you a success.





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    Tuesday, March 07, 2006

    Do you fancy a go at this clubbing blog lark?

    What do you want to tell the world about the clubbing industry?

    I'm looking for people from within the industry (at any level) to contribute a post on this blog. I don't mind what your background or expertise is, as long as you care enough to write a few words down.

    Just to get the juices flowing here are a couple of ideas:

    • What makes a good night out?
    • The pitfalls of setting up an independent record label
    • How important are regulars in a club night?
    • A day in the life of…
    • What to look for in a venue
    • The secrets of…
    • Everyone's a DJ, how do you stand out?

    I’m looking forward to hearing about your passion…

    Sunday, March 05, 2006

    What’s wrong with Gurn.net?


    Criticism is vital to growth. That’s why I literally punched the air when I got emailed a massive critique of Gurn.net yesterday.

    I know it’s against the grain, but I’m putting the best bits up for you to decide whether it’s right or not.

    It means someone cares enough to spend the time to point out our mistakes. So thank you!

    I was a clubber and passionate user of Gurn.net long before I worked here. So I know what it’s like when you care so much you just have to let it all out. Even if it’s way uncool to say so.

    So what is wrong with Gurn.net?




    I have deliberately not commented on these, even though I disagree with some. They are someone’s perception then they must be right to that person.

    More importantly, do you agree? Do you have more to say? Get in touch, I want to know from your angle so I can make Gurn.net better for you.

    If I get enough feedback I’ll post a reply.




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    Saturday, March 04, 2006

    How to promote on clubbing forums

    It might seem easy to promote events on clubbing forums. Just sign up, stick an advert up and you are done.

    It doesn't work like that.

    Forums are cliquéy places in my experience, so unless you are a hardcore member with thousands of posts and loads of mates on the site you are setting yourself up for failure. At best you will be ignored. At worst you will be abused.

    Using forums to promote is like going on a date. You don't try and get sex the first time you meet someone. You have to build a bit of a relationship first.

    So instead try the following:

    Start with the orginal members - The people who run the site are often the most influential, and they have editorial control. talk to them regularly. Meet them in real life if you can. Come up with stuff that would make their life easier: like offering interviews, features, galleries and generally being helpful.

    Find the most influential people - Every forum has hardcore members with big reputations to keep. Just like the site owners, if you can build a genuine online (or even better offline) relationship with them, they will start recommending you. Where they lead others will follow.

    Get the right people on your side and the word spreads like wildfire across forums and IM. It's a phenomenon called "the tipping point" and you can read the proof that it works in Malcom Gladwell's excellent book about how ideas spread:



    Yep, it seems like hard work. It's not as easy as the "hit and hope" tactic of posting listings on 50 different forums. But it works.

    Like dating, if you want to get your rocks off you have to buy dinner first!

    What do you think?

    Is the clubbing industry sexist?

    There are very few women working in the clubbing industry. Is this because the jobs are more appealing to men than women?

    Or perhaps it's down to the built in sexism in this ego driven game.

    I have been talking to a woman promoter this week. She seems convinced it's the latter. Emphatically telling me she has to put up with blokes giving her:
    "bullshit to try and get a quick jump and a struggle trying to get people to take me seriously"
    Not a good sign.

    So here is my question to the girls (and boys) of clubland. Do women get less of a chance in the industry, or do they just not want the jobs in the first place?

    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    How Back2basics are spreading the word

    I was recently talking to Back2basics promoter Huw (they are starting a night in Cardiff). He had some great ideas for promoting a new night.

    The best one was a clever twist on generating a buzz about the night through groups of clubbers.

    Instead of selling tickets directly in the traditional manner, he is planning on selling tickets in bulk at a cut price directly to clubbers so they can sell them to their mates. The seller gets a kick back and the power of peer pressure will boost sales.

    If your mate asked you to buy a ticket to an event all your other mates are going to you would find it hard to resist. I know I would.

    Loving the flyer for the event too. It tells a story.

    By the way, does this system remind you of any other informal distribution system in the clubbing world? One that has worked pretty effectively over the years.

    Wednesday, March 01, 2006

    The law of 6x

    6X

    It's a commonly held law of ideas. For someone to "invest" in what you are selling (a night out clubbing, an idea, a record) they need to get exposed to it six times.

    How about adding a little bit on the end of that.

    ...unless your idea is six times better than everything else, and it can spread six times more quickly.

    For more on this see Unleashing the Ideavirus (it's not a clubbing book though).

    Performancing