Monday, December 29, 2008

What I Have Learned About Twitter (So Far)

Dr. J's Social Media Experiment Part 2: Twitter
(Obscure Music Joke Subtitle: Rockin' Robin on the Interwebs)

Happy New Year! Most of my readers are already using Twitter, but if you have lived in a cave for the last year and don't know what it is, look up Twitter or Micro-blogging on Wikipedia. Too lazy? OK, here goes: A social media/blogging network in which users post "tweets" of 140 characters or less. These tweets provide followers/friends with status info (similar to your Facebook status,) links, jokes, conversations (consisting of @replies,) etc. When referring to a twitter user, you use the "@" symbol; For instance, my Twitter handle is @docj1664. However, if you were to search for me on Twitter, the URL would be For several weeks last month, I collected my daily Twitter feeds on the blog, so that should give you an idea of how it works!

I signed up for Twitter in early March of 2008. I was taking my high school vocal jazz group to France and Switzerland, and I thought it would be a good way to stay in touch with people while I was gone. I convinced my wife to sign up, and I already had a few friends who were using it. I used the service infrequently for the next two months, mostly because I didn't really understand it very well. Of course, I've found out recently that many Twitter users felt that way, and in some ways the "proper" use of Twitter is still evolving.

I really had trouble figuring out what possible use this could be to musicians. I think this area is still evolving, but people such as @carlalynnhall and @sivers (Derek Sivers of CDBaby) are beginning to figure this out. I think the best way to understand Twitter is to realize that it requires an entirely new approach. 

When you sign up, the question is "What are you doing?" However, the type of self-promotion that is so prominent on MySpace and Facebook is anathema to most Twitter users. As cheesy as this may sound, Twitter is about community, and you often find users more concerned about helping each other than promoting themselves. I think this spirit of helpfulness really started this last summer during the hurricanes that hit the Gulf coast, and it has persisted. 

Here are a few other things I've learned:
  • Link Spam - When a user sees someone whose every post consists of a link to their myspace or website, they will probably not follow you. Most users will post helpful links for their followers, as well as occasional blog post announcements.
  • Troll Behavior - This is absolutely not tolerated on Twitter. Most users even tend to stay away from asserting strong political opinions, and generally don't tolerate online flame wars.
  • Profile Names - Most users use their full real name, with no numbers. Unfortunately, I didn't realize this until I had a few hundred friends, but I'm banking on Twitter getting more popular, and people will begin having to use nicknames and numbers.
  • Conversations - Conversations between users are generally looked on favorably, as long as they are not too personal (you can DM or Direct Message another user when appropriate, as long as they are following you.) Many power users spend the entire day conversing with others on Twitter, almost like a public chat room. The idea is that this is usually information that will benefit other users as well.
  • Retweeting - When a user sees something interesting posted by someone he/she is following, they will often "retweet" it so their followers will see it as well. This is one of the most fascinating and useful aspects of Twitter, and perhaps why it was so useful during the hurricanes last summer. Information can spread very quickly this way.
  • Robots - Recently some accounts have started using 'bots which DM new followers. The community at large, however, seems to find this distasteful, so I would shy away from it.
  • Followers - When you follow someone on Twitter, they are not automatically your "friend." They must choose to follow you as well. It is generally considered a courtesy to follow those who follow you, unless you are a celebrity with tens of thousands of followers. It is a good idea to keep your "following" and "followers" numbers as close to each other as possible. 
Twitter definitely requires some "outside of the box" thinking, especially if you are using it as a marketing tool. Many of the old social network rules do not apply, and new rules are being written as the service evolves.

I've barely skimmed the surface, so here are a few additional resources:
For more advice on how to use Twitter for marketing: and
For advice on how to use Twitter and other tools in support of your music career:

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twitter Posts for 12-23-24

12/24/08 Twitter Posts
  • 10:38 It's Christmas Eve. How many of you will be watching "24 Hours of A Christmas Story?" Come on, raise your hands! #
  • 10:57 @mrdungbeetle That sounds like a good combination. #
  • 11:51 @pj33322 Ouch - good luck. Having worked at the Apple Store last season, I know how crazy the malls can be on Christmas eve! #
12/23/08 Twitter Posts
  • 00:49 @jthrash Happy birthday Jen! #
  • 01:01 @darthvader "Winter" from "Santa Claus is Comin' To Town" is my favorite Christmas villain. #
  • 01:07 @carlalynnehall Thanks for wishing me a great gig! It did go very well! #
  • 01:13 @greggrunberg I just spent 5 minutes trying to see if your eyes would truly follow the cursor everywhere. #
  • 01:23 @greggrunberg Seriously, though, I love the site. Kudos! #
  • 03:44 New blog post: Twitter Posts for 12-22-08 #
  • 12:02 @elgincombs Happy birthday Elgin! #
  • 12:10 Watching @theguild. #
  • 12:23 @matthewgood congratulations! #
  • 12:26 RT @repcor: I. Can't. Stop. Watching. This. :) #
  • 13:28 @Omega13 Thanks for the retweet. Hilarious and cute, isn't it? #
  • 14:12 @garagespin Thanks for the retweet! #
  • 17:01 @repcor I just completed my second semester, and I'm really enjoying it. My wife teaches in the Music Business dept. #
  • 17:03 Doh! Macbook power adapter cable melted. Now I have to use the Macbook Pro adapter. Hope the Macbook doesn't 'splode! #
  • 17:06 @MattSearles I don't know, Matt...Seems to me you've gotten the real-world education. #
  • 17:07 @matthewgood You're right! Abort! Abort! Danger Will Robinson! #
  • 17:15 @MattSearles That's the key. I have a doctorate in music, but 50% of what I know I learned from the professional work I've done. #
  • 17:16 @MattSearles And that includes the people I've worked with as well as the work experience itself. #
  • 17:20 @MattSearles Not that I'm trying to talk you out of it. Of course, anyone can benefit from more education:) #
  • 17:28 @jonduenas Have a safe trip. #
  • 17:34 @matthewgood Good luck, drive safely! #
  • 17:51 Hoping I can remember how to use the Roland VS1680, since it's been about 8 years since I last used one. #
  • 21:46 New blog post: Social Media and the 40-Something Male - #
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Social Media and the 40-Something Male

(Note: I have been wanting to blog about social media for a while, but I wasn't sure where to start. Therefore, it will now be an ongoing series, possibly even stream-of-consciousness at times. Consider yourself warned:-)

Dr. J's Social Media Experiment Part 1: Introduction

I suppose I first entered the online world in the early 1990's when I joined my first BBS. I think it was called the Gold Coast Macintosh bbs, and I was living in Miami at the time. I was also an early adopter of AOL, but I dropped it in 1996, which was coincidentally about the time it became popular. Next, in the late 1990's, I taught myself HTML, and created my first website, which I called The Jazz Vocal Resource (check it out at the Wayback Machine)

For a number of reasons, I had to drop the website, ca. 2001. For the next five years, my online presence consisted of a single page on the Greenville College website with a photo and bio that I never updated after it was originally posted.

Then, one fateful day in June of 2006, I opened my first MySpace account. Sure, it was a little late, but at the time, hardly anybody my age was on MySpace. I initially did it to promote my music and the music of my band, but I soon created a second "personal" page, and began to search for anyone and everyone I have ever known! Before I knew it, I was fully immersed in the world of social media.

In no particular order, here are all the services I have signed up for. I continue to use some of them, but some I have either cancelled or neglected:

Several random Ning networks, including NetNewMusic

I'm sure there are a few I have forgotten about. Of course, last but not least, I started this blog. My intent with this was especially to help independent artists, and I hope I have helped at least a few of my dozen readers!

If I have come away from this experiment with one overarching theme that applies to musicians, it would be that the old methods no longer work. Social media is not about promoting your music in the traditional sense. It is about creating a connection or relationship with your listeners. In fact, I believe it has more in common with the traditional idea of signings and "meet and greets" than it does with promoting a specific product. I also believe this will translate into career longevity and a more entrenched fanbase. However, even the "experts" don't yet know how musicians will be able to pay their bills in this new world.

Well, folks, that's all for now. Thanks for listening. In my next installment, I will talk about Twitter, which has taken up quite a bit of my free time for the past six months.
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Monday, December 22, 2008

Twitter Posts for 12-22-08

Recent Twitter Posts
  • 00:36 @Ihnatko I never even knew they did a director's cut. The original was perfect the way it was! #
  • 00:37 @markdejaynes Are you doing a lesson with Jorge? #
  • 00:49 New blog post: Recent Twitter Posts #
  • 00:58 @matthewgood I told you I was worried about a potential feedback loop:) #
  • 01:04 @markdejaynes You know I would have been glad to teach you! Jorge will be awesome, though, and I'm glad you're doing it! #
  • 11:45 Have to venture out into the cold for another human pincushion meetup. #
  • 14:55 @matthewgood Hey, that's in my bag of tricks as well:) #
  • 14:56 RT @Mick_Shrimpton: What's the hardest three years of a drummer's life? ....Second grade. #
  • 14:56 RT @Mick_Shrimpton: What did the guitarist do when told to turn his amplifier on? ....He caressed it softly and told it that he loved it. #
  • 14:57 @matthewgood Oh, man, if they have dates in Mexico, we could even drive down! #
  • 15:23 @matthewgood Understood! #
  • 15:32 I just joined the musicians Twitter Group and you can too. Please Retweet. #
  • 15:34 @JaronDavis Actually, I've heard a version of Terry Riley's "In C" played by a very large ensemble. #
  • 15:51 New blog post: Good News in These Bad Times #
  • 18:02 Starting my gig tonight as "house band" for "Live on Tape" on Malden's MATV. #
  • 22:52 "Scientists discover new forest with undiscovered species on Google Earth - Telegraph" #
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Good News in These Bad Times

I was listening to NPR this afternoon, and they were talking about retailers and the troubles they are having in the current economic climate. A gentleman from St. Louis who owns an independent record store called in and said that he has seen a 20% increase in sales this holiday season. He also said this included vinyl and CD's, as well as DVD's.

As many of you know, I have long sung the praises of mom-and-pop record stores. In fact, I credit them for much of my own musical education. I have been pleasantly surprised lately to see that, while many of the big chains have gone under, the indie stores have been able to survive.

To hear this particular story really warms my heart, especially since I used to frequent all of the St. Louis indie record shops, and I think I can guess which one it is (he didn't say.) I also know that many of my friends who still live in St. Louis also frequent those shops, and I know at least several who buy plenty of vinyl (yes, I'm talking about you, Jason, among others!)

So, I say a hearty "thank you" to my STL friends for supporting local music retailers, and I urge everyone around the country to do so as well!
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Recent Twitter Posts

  • 00:46 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 13:40 When driving in Boston, never underestimate the willingness of drivers & pedestrians to risk their lives as well as yours. #
  • 14:31 @matthewgood True. I remember Chicago being that way, now that I think of it. #
  • 17:13 The guy on the "Shamwow" commercial cracks me up! #
  • 19:42 Still blizzarding here in Malden. #
  • 19:45 @matthewgood What did you think of I Spy? I used to love that show as a kid. #
  • 19:50 @karma_musings Actually, this may be sleet. It's hard to tell, and I'm not about to go outside and find out. It's very windy as well! #
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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tweets for 12-20-08

Recent Twitter Posts
  • 00:45 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 12:06 I think I may do absolutely nothing today. I need a day to decompress. #
  • 12:19 RT @stevegarfield: Earring wearer's head is placed between "open" and "close" tags. #
  • 14:23 Round 2 of the storm is supposed to hit tomorrow, and I have morning church gig, afternoon recording session, evening band rehearsal. #
  • 14:24 I'm guessing some of that might not happen:( #
  • 14:25 @chasemacri Ooh...Langley figures prominently in several XFiles eps! #
  • 14:35 @karma_musings It hasn't really stopped here either. #
  • 14:51 @matthewgood Oops, did I have the wrong Langley? #
  • 15:03 Holed up in the apt. during a snowstorm: #
  • 15:38 Bet I'm the only person you know who can burn eggs! (Can't wait 'til @recdmavn gets back) #
  • 19:43 @matthewgood Eggs are usually one of the few things I can do. However, this time I even set off the smoke alarm. #
  • 19:45 Watching my DVD of the *original* The Day The Earth Stood Still. Ah, the genius of composer Bernard Hermann! #
  • 19:48 Theremin FTW! #
  • 20:02 @Ulrn2Twtr I suppose if I had never seen the original, I would think it is a decent movie. #
  • 21:06 Klaatu. Barada. Nikto. #
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Friday, December 19, 2008

Tweets for 12-19-08

Recent Twitter Posts
  • 03:48 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 07:49 Last day of school. Hope I can get in and out of the back bay before the storm hits. #
  • 13:39 Some Berklee offices have closed, but I don't see any snow yet. I'm still going home, though, just to be safe. #snow1219 #
  • 13:53 OK, It's definitely snowing now near Berklee. Glad I'm going home. #snow1219 #
  • 15:15 Safely at home in Malden, stocked up on groceries, internet and heat both work. I'm good:) #
  • 15:17 Listening to @maronvseder #
  • 18:20 @CMajor The two of you are hilarious together! #
  • 18:43 @Mick_Shrimpton I'm glad to know your spontaneous combustion was faked. You were the best drummer Tap ever had! #
  • 23:04 Can't believe it's still snowing. I think it's been at least 9 hours now. #snow1219 #
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tweets for 12-18-08

Tweets For Today
  • 00:45 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 05:24 RT @reevesman: the official autotune Backlash video. #
  • 05:52 @springclock That was Al, right? I used to be in a band with his son. How's he doing? #
  • 05:54 @docj1664 got a Twitter Grade of 95/100 from @grader. See: #
  • 06:29 RT @reevesman: For anyone who hasn't gotten my first record, here it is. Pass it around. I love pirates. #
  • 06:38 It's 6:38 and I've already been awake for 2 hours. Something wrong with that;) #
  • 08:43 True story: On the train reading the paper. Liked an article I was reading. Looked for a "Digg" button. Where's my cyber-wifi & brain2text? #
  • 08:44 @Sooz All I can say is "nonono!" #
  • 08:48 @springclock I forgot that he was back in the band by that point. He had quit the band for a while, then he came back. #
  • 09:18 @JaronDavis A month ago in class, I erased something on the board, realized I shouldn't have, and looked for an "undo" button! #
  • 10:16 I love Berklee. I just got an email from someone, and it was written in the Finale Jazz Font! #
  • 10:45 @joemcgill Actually, I just meant I love the fact that even most of the administration and staff here are musicians. #
  • 11:27 @JaronDavis @matthewgood Maybe "Tronitis" or "Matrixity?" #
  • 11:30 @matthewgood Hey, that's me, nerdy references always at the ready! #
  • 11:40 @chasemacri What is the derivation of your use of the word? Does it have something to do with the movie? #
  • 13:40 RT @reevesman: reposted album link for anyone interested. #
  • 13:49 RT @matthewgood: some more free-music love: - my album. #
  • 16:15 @chasemacri One of my Christmas break projects is to get all of that music available. #
  • 16:22 @chasemacri Yeah, @recdmavn has been on my case lately about the fact that I've never properly released it, so it will happen soon! #
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tweets for 12-17-08

Tweets For Today
  • 00:54 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 12:26 @joelgoodman @chasemacri @matthewgood You know what that reminds me of? "Big Blue Bastard!" #
  • 12:49 RT @carlalynnehall: RIAA Bans Telling Friends About Songs #
  • 13:19 @carlalynnehall Oh, you know, finals week. Always a lot of fun! #
  • 13:59 @davidhechler What happened to Jude? #
  • 14:03 @davidhechler Oh, that's good. I was afraid something had happened to him. #
  • 16:32 @chasemacri Yeah, Brian's band was amazing, and they were all great singers as well. The songs were OK. #
  • 16:34 Two more days left until vacation! #
  • 20:33 Nigel Tufnel was just named to the Berklee Board of Trustees. Awesome:-D #
  • 20:35 Just in case you doubt me: #
  • 20:39 Have to go to bed early so I can take @recdmavn to the airport at 4:30 am. Goodnight Twitterites! #
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tweets for 12-16-08

Tweets For Today
  • 00:07 @joelgoodman I knew it!! #
  • 00:10 Just finished writing an arrangement of Carol of the Bells for my choir. Going to bed now. #
  • 00:52 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 10:52 @joelgoodman @JaronDavis The guy who plays Hiro is a huge trekkie, so I'm sure he's been in heaven. #
  • 13:30 One of my students wants me to help him start a Radiohead ensemble. Awesome! #
  • 13:45 @MattSearles Thanks for stating it that way. I've been feeling a bit guilty about how much time I've been spending on Twitter:) #
  • 14:55 @joelgoodman I'm surprised you can even connect. We're having a server problem at the edu today. Even our intranet is painfully slow. #
  • 17:48 Listened to class projects all day, and so far they all rocked! #
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Tweets for 12-15-08

Tweets For Today
  • 00:48 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 09:43 Good morning Twitterites! Only 10 shopping days until Christmas! Wait, do you include the current day or not? I'm so confused:) #
  • 10:43 @smokingmole Glad to be of service:) #
  • 10:45 @springclock I scoff at shopping, only b/c I can't afford to do any, which I suspect is the case for many people this year! #
  • 13:15 @chasemacri I usually have to wait months to d/l an update. Since I don't have PT on my school macbook, I'm doing it!! Take that, digi!! #
  • 13:17 Wow, it's 62 degrees in Boston right now! Gotta love the bipolar weather here! I'm going outside right now! #
  • 13:22 @chasemacri I'm hardly even using PT anymore. Right now, it's mostly Logic, and I have made a commitment to myself to learn DP over break. #
  • 13:28 @chasemacri I'm doing very little in the way of live recording right now. Mostly softsynths. #
  • 13:30 RT @mvolpe: Twitter In Real Life: The Follow-Back [cartoon] Funny! #
  • 13:33 @chasemacri an ipod is def easier than triggering samples, etc. #
  • 22:01 OMG, I think that was Worf playing the president on Heroes. #
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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tweets for 12-14-08

Tweets For Today
  • 00:47 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 06:32 Now I can watch the 3 stooges with breakfast. Thanks Hulu! #
  • 15:28 Just checked my Twitter grade (on @grader) and it was much higher than I expected. Wonder what I'm doing right? #
  • 15:45 @repcor I'm glad someone is trying to spread some happiness! We need it these days:) #
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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tweets for 12-13-08

Tweets For Today
  • 00:49 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 11:43 @joelgoodman I'll second that! #
  • 11:47 @film_girl It must be administered by their management:P #
  • 11:53 Sitting on the couch with @recdmavn, listening to jazzy Christmas music! Happy Saturday Twitterverse! #
  • 22:09 Spent all day grading papers. Taking a break now. #
  • 22:49 @jonduenas Speaking of that, at this very moment I am enjoying your library! #
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Friday, December 12, 2008

Tweets for 12-12-08

Tweets For Today
  • 00:53 New blog post: Tweets for Today #
  • 09:55 New blog post: 2008 Pitchfork Readers Poll Is Out! #
  • 12:43 Heading to lunch, then back here for more grading of papers! #
  • 15:57 Heading home...Glad the rain stopped! #
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2008 Pitchfork Readers Poll Is Out!

I did not pay much attention to mainstream music this year, for reasons I will discuss in a future posting. (Of course, when I say "mainstream," I also mean indie labels, which have, in effect, become a mainstream phenomena.) Therefore, you will see no "best of 2008" lists on my blog.

Instead, I would like to direct your attention to Pitchfork's annual reader's poll. If you listen to indie music, you should bookmark Pitchfork and visit it daily. And don't be scared of the name; It has nothing to do with Satan or farming!

2008 Pitchfork Readers Poll | Pitchfork
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tweets for 12-11-08

  • 06:27 My morning ritual: eat, run around the house, scratch the rug, play with a paper bag...Wait, that's my cat's morning ritual! #
  • 07:26 @Sooz Thanks. I realized that many of the people there had probably already met at the SMB event, which I couldn't attend. #
  • 07:28 @smokingmole A meetup of Twitter users. You should check around, they are probably doing some in LA from time to time. #
  • 08:06 60 degrees yesterday, 35 degrees today. WTF Boston? #
  • 09:57 New blog post: Cut Your Own Record? #
  • 13:03 @chasemacri Thanks for adding me. You have some awesome stuff in your library! #
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Cut Your Own Record?

This company from Switzerland sells a home vinyl record cutter. If I remember my exchange rate correctly, it is extremely expensive, but I'm just amazed that there is a market for something like this!

dubplatecutter - Vinylium

(via Analog Apartment)
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Monday, December 08, 2008

Mellotron Demo

The best thing about this video is that they briefly show the inner workings of the instrument several times.


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Friday, December 05, 2008

RIP Forrest J Ackerman

Forrest J. Ackerman, the dean of sci-fi/horror fandom, is dead at 92. For those of us who grew up reading his words of wit and wisdom in "Famous Monsters" and elsewhere, this is a sad day!


Wikipedia Article:
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A Must-Read for Indie Musicians!

I'm not going to say anything else about this post, you should just go and read it. I do welcome your comments here, though, if you have the time.

Should the New Law of Music Absorption alter your music business decisions? - Music Think Tank - Music Think Tank

(via Yvynyl)
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Monday, December 01, 2008

The Matrix Runs on Windows

No comment necessary...just watch and laugh!

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