Bob Baker's Artist Empowerment Blog

Bob Baker on NPR's 'Morning Edition' today

Allow me to toot my own horn and share some good news. I was featured in a short radio piece today on Morning Edition, which is broadcast to more than 12 million people on 600 NPR stations across the U.S. and beyond.

You can listen to the three and a half minute segment here:

It was about the recent FCC payola ruling (which I wrote about last week on my music promotion blog) and, more specifically, Clear Channel radio's new attempt to give more exposure to local and independent musicians. But the agreement they ask artists to make is raising a lot of questions.

Reporter Neda Ulaby used quotes from three people in this great piece, so she could only use sound bites from each of the interviews. While I take a "pro exposure" stance, don't think for a moment that I devalue the worth of an indie artist's music.

I don't think creative people should always give up everything or "play for free" just for the "exposure." You should read and be concerned about the legal agreements you enter into. But don't let these concerns scare you and keep you from taking advantage of true exposure opportunities.

I've found that a lot of artists are overly paranoid about people -- and corporations -- stealing their stuff. But in reality, their biggest problem isn't copyright infringement. It's obscurity.

If Clear Channel (or any commercial radio station) is willing to give you airplay in an attempt to improve its image as a do-gooder, I think you should strongly consider it. As I mention in the NPR piece, the worse case scenario isn't really all that bad, in my opinion.


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Hilary Clinton, Celine Dion & The Sopranos

Want a great lesson on how to use the Internet to create a viral buzz? Keep an eye on the U.S. presidential campaign over the next 18 months. During the 2004 campaign we discovered the power of bloggers. This time around it seems video content will be king.

In an effort to show her softer side, Hilary Clinton ran a lighthearted contest to pick a new campaign song. Check out this video from a couple of weeks ago (which has been viewed nearly 300,000 times).

Also take a look at the announcement video on Sen. Clinton's site, which spoofs The Sopranos finale and makes nice use of former pres Bill and Soprano Johnny Sack.

All of this lead to a big climax: the announcement of the winning song ... which turned out to be an upbeat anthem by, of all people, Canadian songstress Celine Dion.

Here's what was right with this song contest idea:

Hilary did indeed loosen up. In these clips she shows that she has a sense of humor and the ability to not take everything so seriously (something her campaign people have been desperately trying to convey).

Kudos to her for including some of the video submission clunkers and particularly the negative comments people made about the song contest -- important aspects of open and transparent, community-driven communication. Most politicians (and corporations) try too hard to control their intended message and suppress critical comments -- much to their chagrin.

The Sopranos spoof was clever, and the use of Bill, Chelsea and Johnny Sack added some smiles.

Now for the bad: Crowning Celine Dion, the queen of female power ballad sap, as the winner was a mismatch. When I think of web-savvy, forward-thinking voters ready for a change in the White House ... Celine doesn't immediately spring to mind.

Viral buzz is all about connecting with a group of people with a similar worldview. Trying to overlap Hilary-supporting Democrats with Sopranos devotees and Celine Dion fans was a stretch by anyone's imagination.

Another important aspect of today's viral buzz creation is community involvement. While I believe Hilary did welcome new song suggestions, the voting was mainly to choose an existing popular song. Had she opened it up to songwriters and solicited a brand-new campaign song, that would have added a lot more "community involvement."

So, when concocting your own online video buzz theme, make it interactive. And make sure your concept ties in directly to your identity AND the audience you're wanting to reach.


YouTube music video promotionJoin the YouTube revolution. Read How to Use Video to Promote Your Music Online. Learn how to create, promote and profit from your own low-cost music videos.

How to Make a Name for Yourself as an Artist

What can you learn about promotion from a guy who's been wearing a nametag 24/7 for more than 2,400 days straight? A lot when that guy is Scott Ginsberg (who just got some great national media exposure when he appeared on ABC's 20/20 last Friday night).

In this video clip (recorded a couple of weeks ago in New York at a trade show) Scott and I explore what it takes to stand out in a crowd:

If you like that, watch this other video clip I did with Scott at the same venue.


YouTube music video promotionJoin the YouTube revolution. Read How to Use Video to Promote Your Music Online. Learn how to create, promote and profit from your own low-cost music videos.

48-Hour Film Project Rush

For the third year in a row, I participated in the 48-Hour Film Project. It's an annual adrenaline rush where teams of filmmakers pull a genre out of a hat and are then given a character, a prop, and a line of dialogue they must incorporate into a short film. Then the clock starts and everyone has 48 hours to write, shoot and edit a 5- to 7-minute film.

This year I formed a team with my old pal Lee Mueller. We co-wrote the plot and script. He did all the camera work and editing, and I directed. We had a fabulous cast and crew. It screened last night in St. Louis and got a great response from the audience.

Check out the YouTube version below. And keep your ears peeled for a great original song written and sung by Matt Logan, who took our crazy plot line and crafted the perfect song for the soundtrack.

Here are the details we had to work with:

Genre: Road movie
Character: Ryan Coccinelle, entomologist (an insect expert)
Prop: A doll
Line of dialogue: "Don't look now, we may have trouble."

This was one of those awesome creative group efforts that everyone who participated will remember for years to come. Want to get involved? The 48-Hour Film Project takes place in cities across the U.S. and around the world. Check the web site for upcoming cities and dates.