Friday, July 30, 2010

Week 4: Social Media for Musicians

This week's chapter in 9 Weeks is packed with useful techie websites.  My favorite has to be the commoncraft "in plain English" series, which takes terms like cloud computing and social bookmarking, and explains them in such simple terms that an attentive 4 year old could get it.  I had a vague idea of what a widget was before I saw the commoncraft video, but now I can geek out with the best of 'em!   After watching every single video, I feel downright educated!  That said, there are SO many applications and widgets, it's hard to know which ones to use.

My first Flickr2Facebook Upload
In an effort to simplify these social media processes, I did recently get a fancy phone to help out.  Not to sound too much like a commercial, but the Sprint EVO is super easy to use and comes with applications for facebook and twitter so I can post to both accounts with little hassle. I downloaded an app for twitpic, so now as soon as I take a photo on my phone, I can upload it to twitter instantly.  Far out, man.  Just don't let the wrong person get a hold of your phone -- they can far too easily take sordid photos and upload to ALL your accounts.  Not that I know anything about sordid photos ;)  I can also easily upload photos to my Flickr account, which links to facebook.  Can't wait for the app that just links every single social media site in one go!  Maybe there is one already?

To soup up my facebook page, I decided to go with the Reverbnation "my band" application.  I have some free downloads available there if a listener decides to become a fan.  Also, I added a Facebook "Like" button to my Homepage.  It's right under my exclusive download widget, which I changed after meeting Benji from Pledge Music at Ariel's Brooklyn Cyber/PR mixer last week.  Unlike the Reverbnation widget which asks only for an email address and requires several click-throughs, the Pledge Music widget gives the listener a choice between entering an email address, posting a link to twitter, or posting a "like" to Facebook, and the free download is instant.  Right now, I have the first song "Sometimes" (STUDIO VERSION!!!) from my new album posted for free download, only available on my site.

The Photo I wish I could Send to my Facebook Page instead
of to my FB profile via FlickR (Dead Copycats at
Local 269, NYC)
My problem with facebook is that I find it difficult to manage the band page.  I have a ton of facebook friends on my profile page, but only like 13 facebook band "likes" so it will be interesting to see how my newly added "like" button on my website helps out.  Also, How do you link Flickr to your band page instead of your profile page???  To sidestep this issue, I used the Selective Tweets app to hook up my twitter to my facebook, so that twitter will now automatically post to my profile AND my page.   I'd gladly appreciate any advice from those who are technologically wiser and know how to get more traffic to the page not the profile.

Okay, I'm dizzy now.

I'll do a quick update on last week's topic before I sign off.  My web 2.0 strategy Jess Takes Requests (i.e. audience participation) is progressing, and will hopefully go easier once my technological learning curve gets less steep. Last week I posted my version of Nirvana's "Come As You Are".  This week, I recorded "Happiness is a Warm Gun", originally by the Beatles, which will be on view as of Saturday 7/31.  All my cover songs are available for Free MP3 download.  You can make requests by commenting on this blog or on my site,  or by emailing

I'm happy to report that the exclusive download widget on my site has led to quite a few more people joining my mailing list, and my website's traffic is up by like 400%.  I truly believe that the more energy you put into something, the more you get out of it.  If you're reading this and you dig the music, please share!  And "Like" me (via Facebook)

Much Love Until Next Time,

Jess Braun: Dream Rock Songstress

Monday, July 19, 2010

Week 3: Optimizing Your Website

My initial concern with this particular 9 Weeks chapter "Optimizing Your Website" is that my newly recorded material isn't ready to be released.  So, if I can't give away the new songs, what can I give people?  Light bulb!  I have a laptop, I can borrow a video camera...I can record cover songs...and I can sing them at your request.  Everyone is encouraged to request a song for me to sing in a video.  I'll be giving the MP3 versions out as free downloads.  Just send an email with your request to   I shot the first video with guitarist and friend, Sonia Marquez.  Of course, the technology gods do not generally smile upon me, but I hope to get the first video up and running by tomorrow.  You can watch it HERE.

Going through this week's chapter checklist, technical difficulties seem to be the running joke...on me.  Twitter won't upload my profile info.  My MP3s are too big to post on Myspace or Facebook.  My "Sounds like" pitch won't fit in the top third of my homepage.  My computer won't upload the video I shot.  Nothing's ever just easy, is it? 

However! I'm going through the steps, doing what I can with what I've got, which is all we can ever do.  The good news is that I have a free MP3 to give away right's the demo version of "Sometimes", which I recorded in my hallway.  It's on my homepage. The studio version will be the first track on my new album.  AND, my website loads quickly, thanks to hostbaby, which incidentally has some great web building templates.  Mine fits my aesthetic perfectly -- purple and swirly!  -- and matches my Myspace

I've also noticed many more hits on my website since this blogging challenge began, so that's rad.  Until next week,

Jess Braun: Dream Rock Songstress

Monday, July 12, 2010

Week 2: Your Perfect Pitch

Nine out of ten times, when I tell someone I'm a singer, the next words out of the person's mouth are"What kind of music?"  While this is by far the most difficult question for a musician to answer, without an answer, you look like a complete fool.  I know this first-hand.  I have been this fool.  This week's chapter, "Your Perfect Pitch" is THE most challenging because you have to look at yourself from a marketing perspective.  I find it incredibly difficult to see myself and my music from an outside point-of-view, which is why I enlisted help!

I fall into the category of being one of the luckiest people in the world because I have some of the best friends on the planet.  One of them is Nora Geiss, who works for a branding company in New York City.  Together, we sat down with some of her colleagues at Interbrand who had the graciousness to spend some time listening to my music and offering up ideas.  (Thank you Nora, Melinda, Jill, Cesar, Rachel and Lauryn).  We concluded that the songs on my new EP are dreamy, watery, introspective narratives that come from a place of strength and truth.  Out of this discussion, my genre "Dream Rock Songstress" was born.  It conveys that I'm a female solo artist who sings chilled out rock music, and also hints at a soulful sound.  I hope it also invokes a certain amount of curiosity.  At the suggestion of Ariel in "Music Success in Nine Weeks", I have this tag on my website, email signature, facebook page, myspace page, etc.

The next question people generally ask me is "well, who do you sound like?"  Oh man!  Another crazy difficult question!   I've argued with myself on the "sounds like" category a lot but I agree with Ariel that the ultimate goal for an emerging artist working on her pitch, is to simply pique curiosity and convey the general vibe of the music.  I usually have a few contemporary reference artists on hand like Neko Case, Fiona Apple, or Florence and the Machine, as well as a few older artists like Janis Joplin or Grace Slick.  Now, I don't deign to think that I sound exactly like Janis or Gracie, but I do share certain qualities like I have a bohemian style, a strong soulful voice, and I sing pop/rock music.

Although it has been a struggle coming up with my "pitch", with a little help from my friends, I can now confidently proclaim (in less than 15 seconds!) to any askers out there as a solo artist I sing soulful dream rock music reminiscent of Fiona Apple, Neko Case, or Janis Joplin, and I have a debut solo album coming out in September.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Week 1: Getting Mentally Prepared

I've decided to participate in the "Music Success in 9 Weeks" blogging challenge brought you you by PR-Guru, Ariel Hyatt.  This will include 9 entries, one per week based on each chapter in the hopes of kicking my music career up a few notches (and hopefully winning the prize of some free PR to boot!)

Let me start with a brief introduction to put these entries in context.  I'm a singer currently living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and after singing and writing for the Indie Rock band, Dead Copycats, for the past several years, I've just finished recording my first solo project -- an album of 7 indie pop/rock songs.  Although I've lived in New York almost a decade now,  I've quit my administrative day job as of September 1st in order to pursue creative endeavors full-time.  I'll be heading to Europe in the fall for travel and touring, and then to Northern California to write a second album before returning to the best city in the world.  Should be an adventure, but it's due time, and I'm definitely up for it.  So!  This blogging challenge is just what I need to stay motivated and on-task.

Week 1 in "Music Success" is all about goal setting, small and large.  Take the first exercise, which is designed to facilitate positive thinking:  Ariel suggests keeping a daily journal of 5 successes,  even if they don't necessarily have to do with music.  Admittedly, I'm not one for journaling, but here it goes......(and man! is it difficult to think of 5 wins each day, especially over July 4th weekend when it's  all about celebrating and kicking back.)  Check out my list for day one:

1.  Sitting down and actually writing this blog entry
2.  Emailed my talented designer friend to help me out with album art (please!!!???)
3.  Had the moxy to talk up my cd release with strangers at a party last night (and get email addresses)
4.  Ventured out of my apt. in 100 degree heat to try out a new brunch spot (ok, ok, this one's a stretch)
5.  Created a sonicbids account for my online press kit

Like I said, this optimistic thinking takes training and hopefully it will only get easier.  Hey, thinking positively already!

Chapter 1 moves on from the merits of accounting for one's daily successes to acknowledging big-time goals.  I already did this particular exercise several months ago, so it's interesting to look back and check on my own progress.  As of April 2010, these were my 6 Big-Time Goals (and my since-then progress):

1.  Set up my own website featuring the sale of my new album.  The website is up and running: and the album will be for sale in September!!!
2.  Plan European tour dates for fall 2010.    Yikes, haven't contacted any club owners yet, but have done preliminary research on where I'd like to play.
3.  Plan record release party for September 2010.   Done.  Booked Cameo in the back of the Lovin' Cup in Williamsburg, BK on September 23rd.
4.  Book Summer 2011 tour dates in U.S.   Not even close to thinking about this one.  I have to move and travel Europe before this happens.
5.  Develop online presence by maintaining sites like twitter, facebook, myspace, sonicbids.  Yes, I not-so-secretly love stuff like this because I have so many awesome people in my life to keep tabs on.
6.  Write material for a second album by December 2010.   I'm going to go ahead and amend this particular goal to extend my deadline to Spring 2011.  I'm hoping to use my travel experience for material, and I'll need time to let it marinate.

As a former collegiate swimmer, goal setting is no strange concept to me, although in athletics, it's easy to measure success.  In the music industry, it's difficult to know where to start.  I mean, I know that if I do the same kick set in the pool each day holding a faster and faster interval, my legs are bound to get stronger, and my times will get faster when it's time for competition.  But in music, I can do all the vocal scales I want, but it won't help me sell any albums....well, only to a point.  So it helps to know after reading this book, that there are concrete steps that I can take, and the first step is thinking long and hard about what it is I really want and then counting successes as they come.  I'm already optimistic and excited to follow the 9 steps and see where they take me and my new album.

Until next time,