Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Lessons Learned and Miscellaneous Extra Touches

Save the date card commissioned from Matt Schubbe.

It’s been nearly nine months since we said our I wills and I’ve yet to write this final post in my geeky-queer wedding planning series. Between many international trips, Andrew moving to Canada, everyone becoming accustomed to extra people and two extra pets inhabiting a shared space, looking for a bigger house, moving into a bigger house, and more, it has been a very busy nine months. Plus, there are a couple of things in this post that are difficult for me to write.

But, now, the time has come to wrap up this series with lessons learned, and the miscellaneous things we did that were not mentioned in previous posts.

Lesson Learned

Lesson #1: Learn to let go.

Near the end of the planning, I had to learn to let go. I didn’t have to let go in terms of things I wanted. But, I did have to learn to let go over things of which I had no control. This was extremely difficult for me because when I’m stressed, my OCD symptoms become more difficult to control.

Lesson #2: Expect the unexpected.

People warned me that there are always guests who don’t show up, even if they RSVP’d as a yes. This was new information to me, as I had no input the first time I got married. But, as the majority of my guests were coming from out of town—half of whom were coming from out of country—I didn’t expect this to be a reality.

But, the unexpected still happened: a death in the family.

Andrew’s dad, former Rep. Bob Edgar, D-Pennsylvania, unexpectedly passed away a couple months before the wedding.

The death of Andrew’s dad meant that neither of his parents would be physically present at the wedding. Obviously, his mom was too upset to make the long journey from Virginia on her own. This was very difficult for all of us. We now had to figure out a new way to include his parents into the ceremony. More about that at the end.

Lesson #3: Be truly accepting of your non-traditional wedding and don’t worry about what others may think.

Right from the get go, we were very happy with the choices we had made in order to make our United Federation of Planets wedding a reality. However, we were a little shy about sharing it outside of our geeky circles.

What we ended up learning was that vendors and their staff were extremely excited after learning about the theme of our wedding. They all became extra-willing to make our day that much more special. Wait staff wanted to join in the costumes. The menu had themed items. Even the minister wore a costume. And, the night before, strangers eating dinner at The Quamichan Inn asked if it was okay just to drive by the wedding in order to see the costumes. They learned about the wedding because the wonderful staff couldn’t stop talking about it.

Everyone with whom we worked said they enjoyed our wedding more than the traditional affair because it broke the monotony.

So, if you’re worried about what others may think, stop. Especially as those who truly matter—your guests—will be joining in on the fun.

Lesson #4: Technology works great when it works, but when it fails, it really fails.

The above should be a “No, duh!” But, it should be something you keep in mind. Two critical parts of our wedding involved technology: our online guestbook and our in person guestbook (more details below). None of those logs saved properly because of a mixture of user error and technical error.

So, if you decide to do any of the technology-dependent things we that we did, you may later come to find that they did not succeed, despite multiple testing.

Lesson #5: Don’t purchase any crafting books two months before the wedding.

Two months before the wedding, I purchased Star Trek Cross-Stitch: Explore Strange New Worlds of Crafting and The Star Trek Craft Book: Make It So! Both books contained so many wonderful ideas for party favors and decorations. Lo and behold! I wanted to make them all!

I made grandiose plans to craft all the things but ran out of time.

Do not make this mistake. Be sure to purchase any craft books that may coincide with your theme the moment you’ve decided on one.

Miscellaneous Extras

We did many extra things not previously mentioned. They are so numerous, that I cannot possibly list them all. But, I think the following are worth noting as they may help you plan your geeky and/or queer wedding.

1. Create a website.

Instead of having to keep track of paper RSVPs and relying on people to actually put them in the post, we created a website. The website was not only used for RSVP purposes, but it also contained crucial information about the location, the wedding day schedule, accommodation information for out of towners, local restaurants, and activities. That helped cut down on repeatedly answering the same inquiries.

The wedding as viewed by virtual guests. Screenshot provided by Patricia Vollmer.
The wedding as viewed by virtual guests. Screenshot provided by Patricia Vollmer.

2. Stream the wedding.

When people RSVP’d, they had the option to attend the wedding virtually. Many people couldn’t afford to travel to our wedding, yet it was still very important to us that they could still have a way to attend and participate. So, I installed Wowza media server on my server, and we created another website, complete with LCARS theme, for our virtual guests to watch the wedding and chat with each other, also with video capability.

If you do not have your own server, you can still stream your wedding via a number of media server hosts.

Dave and Patricia Vollmer in the chat room. Screenshot provided by Patricia Vollmer.

3. Create a digital guestbook.

Marrying a software developer is a great idea, for many reasons. One of those reasons is they can write software specific for your needs. Andrew wrote a LCARS-themed program that allowed people to make “Captain’s Logs,” instead of signing a traditional guestbook. We installed in on my Surface Pro tablet, so that it had a touch-interface, just like on-board a starship. We even included the sound of the Enterprise engines and the Enterprise computer’s voice saying, “Initializing,” on start-up, and “Transfer complete,” on saving.

After the ceremony was over, the people who attended virtually also made “Captain’s Logs” via the video chat.

Unfortunately, the external memory got knocked out of the Surface Pro and those logs didn’t save, and the virtual videos didn’t save to my server because of a typo I made in the save configuration file.

Party favors. Image via the @AandJWed Twitter account.

4. Create your own decorations and party favors.

For the ceremony, I made the “Make it so” banner found within the The Star Trek Craft Book: Make It So! book. For the party favors, I made everyone a Tribble, also found within the craft book. I also made everyone three Star Trek-themed cross-stitch patterns, found within Star Trek Cross-Stitch: Explore Strange New Worlds of Crafting. Every guest also received a United Federation of Planets pin.

We didn’t have a wedding cake, but we still had cake toppers. Instead of the traditional groom and groom wedding cake topper, I purchased figurines of Mister Spock and Captain Kirk from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, to match our wedding attire.

You can see more pictures of the party favors, the “Make it so” banner, and the “cake toppers” in the Storify story below.

Kirk and Spock forever. Photo by Jules Sherred.

5. Create a special Twitter account and Storify your wedding.

In order to easily track tweets from the wedding, and to allow others to follow along whilst protecting everyone’s privacy, we created @AAndJWed. All of the guests who attended in person were given access to the account.

Because all of the tweets were made in one place, not only did it make for easy sharing and following, but it also made creating a Storify post that much easier.

And to think, some places charge $3000.00 in order to tweet and track your wedding.

6. Create a unique wedding invitation.

If you are artistically inclined, you probably can create some amazing cards for your day. After all, you cannot have normal invitation to commemorate your geeky-queer wedding. If you’re not, then spend a little extra money and commission someone to create the perfect cards for your wedding. We commissioned Matt Schubbe to create our cards, and I cannot recommend him enough.

7. Involving family members who cannot be there.

With Bob’s sudden death, we were put in a very sad place. For a few weeks, we couldn’t even think about the wedding. What we did know is that we wanted to dedicate part of the ceremony to Bob.

Bob had a huge impact on Andrew and on me. He spent his entire life teaching about inclusivity. So did Andrew’s mom, Merle. Without them, Andrew may not have grown into a person who could accept marrying a trans man. Without their acceptance of me as a transgender individual, I would not have been able to marry Andrew.

However, we had a bit of a problem. We knew we wanted to dedicate part of the ceremony to Bob but didn’t know how we wanted that to happen.

Thankfully, we had a little bit of help. Some years ago, Bob wrote a book titled Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right. I had two copies. After Bob’s memorial service, I gave one of those copies to the minister who would be officiating the ceremony. I asked him to read it in order to get to know the man who was Bob Edgar and figure out a way to have Bob with us on that day.

The minister decided to read the following Franciscan benediction Bob included at the end of his book. Neither Andrew nor I knew this was going to happen, and it was all we could do to not burst into tears during the ceremony:

May God bless you with discomfort…
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
So that you may live deep within your hearts.

May God bless you with anger…
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears…
To shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
And to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness…
To believe that you can make a difference in this world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

Followed by Bob’s own words:

And to that prayer, in whatever language we express it, in whatever tradition it is heard, let all us all say in a joyful and faithful and prophetic voice that weds prayer with works and hope with action: Amen.

That was the perfect way to end the wedding ceremony.

Chances are your missing family member did not write a book. If that person is recently deceased, maybe tell a story about them. If they couldn’t be there for other reasons, maybe they can write something to be read during the ceremony. Or maybe you will also be blessed with a wonderful officiant who figures out the perfect thing to say or read.

That pretty much sums it up. Our wedding is long over but not near forgotten. Guests continue to relay how much fun they had. Nine months later, and both Andrew and I are still trying to get over how much love was present that day. Guests are also trying to figure out some other good excuse to travel from far and wide for another really excellent party.

I’ll leave you with a few images via Storify. But first, don’t forget to read the rest of the series. They may help you come up with your own ideas to plan your geeky-queer wedding. The posts include my earlier GeekMom posts, Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Last Names and Culture, Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Location, and Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Gifts. You can download the first six posts in this series, in either PDF, ePUB, or MOBI. These parts include: Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Introduction; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Proposal and the Rings; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Outfits and Wedding Attire; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Wedding Party, Family, and Guests; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Ceremony; and Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Reception.

Remember: There are no rules. This is your day. You can make it whatever you want it to be!

Win 1 of 3 Copies of Marian Call’s New Album Sketchbook

Marian Call Sketchbook cover
Marian Call’s Sketchbook. Image by Marian Call.

On December 1, 2013, Marian Call released her newest album, titled Sketchbook, which, for many reasons, is a splendid album. I am gifting three copies of this album.

If you are unfamiliar with Marian Call’s music, now may be the perfect time to get to know her music. Call’s music is always filled with a lot of heart and multiple layers, but Sketchbook is something extra-special.

Sketchbook isn’t a studio album. Call recorded the album in the houses of people nice enough to give Marian a venue, and a home, during her crazy touring schedule. She recorded them while sick, while hurried, while tired. They are imperfect recordings, which, for me, makes this album one of the best albums I have heard in some time. The reason being is that the sound of the album is more reflective of the raw emotion contained within the music and the lyrics.

Sketchbook contains music that is dark and vulnerable, yet hopeful, songs with dragons, getting back to basics, racing the clock, rain, Iceland, and so much more. The wonderful thing about Marian Call’s music is that her lyrics not only entertain, but they are bound to speak to a wide range of experiences.

Marian Call‘s music has given me many gifts. In fact, I probably would have never met my partner and, subsequently, never would have gotten married, if it didn’t exist. This fact made her performance at my wedding and reception even more special.

In an effort to give others what Call’s music has given to me, on Geeky Pleasures, I am gifting three copies of Sketchbook. Just follow the link to read a mini-review of this wonderful album, and to enter the giveaway. The giveaway ends on December 17, 2013, at 23:59 PST.

If you already own Sketchbook, then tell a friend, or two, about the giveaway, and help them to discover great new music.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Gifts

Save the date card commissioned from Matt Schubbe.
Save the date card commissioned from Matt Schubbe.

Gift-giving is one of many traditions associated with weddings. In fact, there is a whole area of psychology surrounding the act of giving gifts. This act makes people feel good.

When Andrew and I were planning our wedding, our original plan was to not have any gifts. Both of us have been previously married. Unlike couples who are just starting out in life, counting on wedding gifts to establish their home, both Andrew and I are already established. There really isn’t anything that we need.

When I told a few of our friends that we weren’t accepting gifts, they were a little put out, for lack of a better word.

There was a part of me that couldn’t understand why. After all, it would save them money. Also, their presence at our wedding was their gifts to us. The majority of our guests traveled from great distances, spending a lot of money to share in the celebration. The amount of love present at our wedding continues to be overwhelming for the both of us. We will never be able to say, “thank you” enough.

The part of me with a formal education in psychology understood that it was important to our guests, for whatever reason, to do more than simply show up.

Andrew and I didn’t feel right accepting physical goods that we could purchase for ourselves. So, we reached a compromise.

The solution—one that would give everyone involved those warm fuzzy feelings—was to request that in lieu of gifts, people make donations to either the Lupus Research Institute or Marian Call. Both of these mean a lot to Andrew and me.

Wedding invitation commissioned from Matt Schubbe.
Wedding invitation commissioned from Matt Schubbe.

I have lupus. It is the source of a lot of pain and frustration in my life. It is a disease that is greatly misunderstood and does not receive a lot funding or attention. Donating to a charity that helps fund research around the world is something we always encourage. Even though I felt uncomfortable with people making donations in our names, I took one for the team because it was for a good cause.

As for donating money to Marian Call, the reasoning behind that was two-fold.

The first reason—one that both the guests and Marian learned about during the reception—was that unbeknownst to Marian, she played a vital role in how Andrew and I met. The second reason was that Marian was the independent musician we hired to perform a private house concert instead of having a traditional reception.

Yes, we hired Marian, so that means we paid her a flat rate, plus travel and accommodations, instead of the usual way people compensate her for a house concert, which is often by donation.

Because of the nature of the house concert, Marian wasn’t going to sell her music or ask for donations at the event. However, because of how much we value Marian’s music and what it means to the both of us, because of her role in our relationship, because we strongly believe in supporting independent creators, and because both Andrew and I feel we cannot place a price on the value of having her share in the celebration—there really isn’t enough money in the world—we asked people to give her more money. Again, without her prior knowledge.

People got to feel good by giving. Andrew and I got to feel good by surprising Marian with extra well-earned and well-deserved money. It was a win-win situation.

Marian Call and Scott Barkan performing "I'm Yours" during the signing of the registry. Photo by Patrick Fisher. Used with permission.
Marian Call and Scott Barkan performing “I’m Yours” during the signing of the registry. Photo by Patrick Fisher. Used with permission.

This is the part where I awkwardly ask that, if you’ve yet to do so, check out Marian Call’s music and buy it. Also, if you are in a position to play host to a Marian Call house concert, I cannot recommend her enough. She’s one of the most amazing performers I have the pleasure of knowing. It isn’t only because she is an insanely talented vocalist and lyricist. It is because she knows how to read her audience and play directly to the crowd.

I don’t know how she does it. I look at her and experience a sort of envy with her ability to interact in the way she does. She’s this amazing mix of introversion and extroverted exuberance. She takes the time to listen and keenly observe, getting to know her hosts and the environment in which she is performing. She takes what she has learned and transforms herself from a warm introvert to a crowd-pleasing performer.

Our situation was not Marian’s normal venue, so she had extra time to get to know everyone, and feel out her surroundings. Simply having her there helped to make our celebrations perfect; she helped make our wedding better than we could have ever imagined.

Marian helped me feel a little more comfortable being emotive in public, reminding me that I was surrounded by friends and by people who truly cared. I was comfortable enough to openly cry when she performed “Dark Dark Eyes.” (I’m sure the couple, or three, glasses of wine also helped.) She also made observational comments and other tokens—ones that I consider to be private—that really meant a lot.

It is at moments like this where I really wish I could be more expressive about my feelings. Over a month later, not only am I still overwhelmed by how superbly wonderful everyone made our wedding day, but I am still unable to find the proper words to articulate just how wonderful Marian is, both as a person and a performer.

Whether she is livening up a crowd with roaring renditions of “Shark Week,” “We’re Out For Blood,” and “It’s Good to Have Jayne on Your Side,” or putting something in people’s eyes and throats with “Dark Dark Eyes” and “Good Old Girl,” or just having fun with “Love and Harmony (Karaoke),” plus singing not-yet-released music, each Marian Call performance is unique and guaranteed to be amazing.

Marian Call and Scott Barkan performing "It's Good to Have Jayne on Your Side." Photo by Patrick Fisher. Used with permission.
Marian Call and Scott Barkan performing “It’s Good to Have Jayne on Your Side.” Photo by Patrick Fisher. Used with permission.

Also, Scott Barkan—Marian’s accompanist—deserves all kind of praise. Watching him play the guitar is mesmerizing. The guy is not only a crazy talented and amazing guitarist, but he is a talented musician doing his own thing. You’ll want to give Scott’s music a listen and a purchase, too.

While you may not be able to have Marian Call at your wedding, it is just as good to have her perform in your living room or backyard. I cannot recommend the experience enough.

Still to come in this series:

  • The conclusion: Things we’ve learned and other miscellaneous things we did.

My earlier posts, Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Last Names and Culture and Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Location are both here on GeekMom. You can download the first six posts in this series, in either PDF, ePUB, or MOBI. These parts include: Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Introduction; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Proposal and the Rings; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Outfits and Wedding Attire; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Wedding Party, Family, and Guests; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Ceremony; and Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Reception.

If you would like to see a post about something not already mentioned, I want to know. Tell me, what has you curious? About what would you like to see me write? If you let me know, I will try my best to include it in a post.

The GeekMoms Podcast #6 GeekGirlCon: Inspiring Kids and Parents

The show kicks off with an interview with Amber Love about Women of Wonder Day, an annual auction and in-store event where you can bid on beautiful art and collectibles in support of domestic violence charity programs.  Then Nicole is joined once again by GeekMom Cathe Post to talk about her weekend with her husband and daughter at the first ever GeekGirlCon in Seattle, Washington.  This new entry on the convention scene drew some big Geek Girl names to help promote a positive attitude toward all geeks, men, women and especially kids.  And you’ll also hear how the GeekMoms took a stab at the Google+ Hangout feature and ended up having a chat with Felicia Day.

Subscribe in iTunes

Subscribe via our RSS feed using your favorite podcatcher

Direct download

 

Nicole Wakelin: Total Fan Girl and Twitter

Cathe Post: GamerMom V1.0 and Twitter

Theme Music: Rebecca Angel

GeekGirlCon is This Weekend…See You There?

Be still my heart! There is actually a convention for us girls now! It’s in Seattle, so those of you on the East Coast have a ways to trek it (haha, I made a geek funny), but there is indeed a convention made “just for her” and it’s called GeekGirlCon!

That said, I’m dragging my husband with me this weekend to the maiden-voyage of the event. I was looking forward to the GeekGirlCONcert, but it is on Friday night and we won’t make it into Seattle until Saturday. The rest of the weekend proves to be just as entertaining though, with celebrities like Star Wars crafter Bonnie Burton and TV writer Jane Espenson. (I might have a small geek-out if I meet either of these ladies this weekend.) D&D  blogger and podcaster @SarahDarkMagic will also be there, and I’m crossing my fingers to run into her and meet her in person (since I have been following her on Twitter FOREVER).

There are a slew of workshops and games to play in the gaming room. With names like Steve Jackson and Looney Labs on the playlist and workshops like “How to Paint a Miniature,” I have a feeling a major part of our weekend will be spent here (since our daughter will be attending too).

There is a Masquerade on Saturday that my daughter and I might take part in or at least attend for photos. We will be wearing our matching Pokémon skirts that were a hit at PAX, but whether we make it depends how tired we are by Saturday evening.

My list of vendors to visit is HUGE. I’m quickly becoming a comic book fan as my daughter is interested in them too. There will be several female comic book authors and artists there to visit. I’m also looking forward to seeing what the Cute Factory is all about and Geek Stained Glass.

Finally, Sunday I will be moderating the Geeks Raising Geeks panel. Panelists include Nancy HolderBelle HolderCarrie GoldmanKatie GoldmanJenn FujikawaSharon Feliciano, and Stephanie Kaloi.

If you are going to be in Seattle this weekend, I hope to see you there. I will be tweeting (@GamerMom1_0) if I can get reception on my phone. Be sure to say hello!

Music Week: Getting Your Music Heard: Making Use Of New Marketing Models

Some rights reserved by tim geers

If you are a musician, or any type of creative for that matter, you want to have your product consumed. In the digital age, an age where people can consume media for free and, as a result, an age with drastically shifting ways to produce and publish your content, sometimes finding the tools and strategies that will work for you can be difficult.

Some people want to publish their content with strict copyrights and old marketing models. However, in this day and age, unless you have a big record label or publisher behind you, getting that ‘big break’ can be difficult if you are unwilling to let go, take a risk and take advantage of some of the wonderful tools at your disposal that will allow you to have control and a lot of freedom over how you distribute and market your content. In my opinion, getting your music heard is the most important thing. It will be easier to make money from it if you make it easier for people to listen to and share your music.

I work with a lot of independent musicians. Most of them use some combination of new marketing tools to publish and distribute their music, plus to reach out to their supporters. Some have yet to find the perfect formula that works for them. Others have been quite successful. All of them do not regret the choices they have made because at least their music is getting heard and those who are listening are not afraid to pass it on.

Yesterday, I wrote about one of these tools: Entering songwriting competitions. As I was preparing for Music Week, I asked a handful of the independent musicians that I work with to tell me what new marketing tools they prefer. A lot of the tools that I use to distribute some of my own materials, such as Bandcamp and making use of Creative Commons, I learned from the musicians and other creatives I’ve worked with over the years.

Here is what they had to say.

John Anealio—whom I wrote about earlier this week—said:

The two tools that I have found to be the most useful are bandcamp.com and fanbridge.com.

When I release a new single on Bandcamp, I make it available for free. People only have to sign my mailing list to download the track.

FanBridge is a mailing list server. It does a great job of organizing your mail list into geographic locations, new fans, etc. That way you can send targeted e-mails to certain groups, without annoying your whole list with irrelevant information.

When I put out a new song, I let the people on my mailing list know that they can get it for free, but please let other folks know about it on Twitter, Facebook and their blog. Bandcamp has great tools for spreading that info. This has really helped to grow my mailing list. My mailing list has grown from 300 people to 1000 people in the past six months by doing this.

Fanbridge’s free service gives you 400 messages per month. So if you have less than 400 people on your list, you can send them 1 e-mail a month for free. I had to switch to the first tier of their paid service ($10 a month) once my mailing list went over 400 people, but was happy to pay it.

I like that you can search your list by area. For instance, I’m playing a house concert in Maryland in a few weeks. I can search my mailing list to give me the people that are within an x mile radius of the house zip code. I can then send an e-mail to only those people and not bother anyone else on the list.

Once a month, I make a group of the new people that joined the list. That way I can send them a welcome e-mail and ask them to check out my catalogue of music and to friend me up on the various social networks.

Glen Raphael said:

ReverbNation.com makes getting your act together online feel a little like collecting achievements in a video game. There’s so much stuff that needs to be done when you first start out – posting pictures, writing a bio, getting some reviews, posting songs/videos, accumulating a fanbase, linking up the things you need to link to, announcing shows…that it can be a little overwhelming. So they give you a progress bar and tell you what you should do next, and as you do it your “Progress” numbers improve and you “climb the charts” relative to other performers so there’s a competitive aspect too.

For instance, as I look at my profile right now—http://reverbnation.com/glenraphael—right now it tells me:

“Your Profile is 78% complete. After you Add/Link to Blog you will be 84% complete.”
“Your Promotions are 13% complete. After you Promote on Facebook you will be 26% complete.”

I’m also told that my rank is #174 in “New York Folk” and that I still need to “mobilize my street team.”

Noah McLaughlin said:

I very much like bandcamp.com, but my use of online music distribution is quite limited compared to many other musicians I know. I just need a place to post my music where I can point interested parties—friends, family, Song Fighters and folks from SpinTunes. The integration with Facebook is very nice from Bandcamp: Post the link to the song and it automatically creates a miniplayer in Facebook; I wish G+ had that feature. I like that Bandcamp’s interface is simple but flexible, though the “upload music first and then create an album” process was counter-intuitive for me at first.

Another service I’ve begun to explore is Jamendo.com, which has many more tools and facilitates a wide cross-section of listeners with its built-in “radio” feature.

Also, rockin’ it kind of old-school, I know quite a few Song Fighters who use Spud’s Amazing Website machine: http://www.cybertoys.org/

Tom Giarrosso of the Boffo Yux Dudes said:

While we have hundreds of songs and bits up on our Bandcamp, there’s not much up on ReverbNation, MySpace, or the streaming sites because I’m notoriously lazy.

We have a Facebook page that links to our Twitter, YouTube and Bandcamp feeds, as well as the main blog BYD365 project. That blog is a little stalled at the moment, but I think I’ve still averaged a bit a day over the year.

One thing I’m a big fan of is the ‘Touch it once, send it everywhere’ philosophy. The more you can cross link to other platforms, the better your overall reach will be.

So any Twitter posts show up on the Facebook page, and the blogs, and MySpace and other pages. You’d go mad trying to keep up otherwise.

As an aside before I continue, I think you need to be careful how much you cross-post the same content to various platforms, especially if you have the same core group of followers at each place. Otherwise you risk having your posts looking like spam. Even though the people who have ‘Liked’ my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter and have circled me on Google Plus are mostly distinct groups of people, I seldom cross-post. Not only does this prevent the people who do follow me on each platform from becoming weary of my content, it encourages people to follow me on all places so that they don’t miss out on stuff.

Along that same vein, it is also very important to take some time doing the social part of social media and social networking. Take time to talk with those who are following you. Pay attention to the things they are posting. Build some form of relationship with them. If you take the time to care about them, they will care about you and be more willing to consume your products.

Mick Bordet said:

I’m another one using Bandcamp and finding it hard to beat at this level. Over on the Lunacy Board website, we’re trying out MusoPress, a WordPress theme that is custom-designed for music sites and integrates with Bandcamp, YouTube and other services. It is still early days, but it is fairly simple and works well for what we’re doing at the moment.

I haven’t investigated FanBridge beyond a cursory glance, but I know a couple of people who do use it and it produces good results.

We did have an album up on Jamendo for a while, but I took it down for two reasons: 1) Because of the quantity of MySpace-like ‘friend’ requests only looking to plug their own albums; and 2) Because we had a review on there that was pretty nasty and contrary to all the other reviews that affected the album’s overall ‘score’. It was particularly annoying because the person who left the review was supposedly not even interested in our genre of music, prompting the question “why review an album that you have no other reason to listen to?”

I’d recommend taking a look at Steve Lawson’s website too. He’s a solo bass player who has embraced the ‘Pay as much as you like” and house concert model, as well as being heavily involved in the ‘New Music Strategies’ group. He has written a lot about engaging with music fans and making a modest career in music.

Errol Elumir of Debs and Errol said:

I don’t know if I can add to the conversation much because I just started our new band a month ago and our first album isn’t even out yet, although the recording is done! HUZZAH!

As someone starting out, however, marketing presses on my mind a lot. And there is so much just to set up!

Getting a website going, finding a theme that fits your site, finding the right plugins to put on your site, finding a good mailing list, setting up a Facebook page, setting up pages on the myriad of music sites, finding all the music sites.

And with the musical landscape cluttered with social media sites like neon lights in Vegas, how does one get others to listen? I get tired talking about myself this much to my friends.

And so I’m trying desperately to think creatively to get new people just to listen. Of course, there is nothing to listen to yet, but hey. We’re almost there, stay on target.

At least I know the demographic that I may appeal to, so I’m trying this and seeing if it works:

  • A daily webcomic – I think it will be hard to mesh a site to be both a comic and a music site, but hey, may as well try.
  • A text game – Yes. I want to make video games for our band.
  • Google Hangout Concerts – Because they’re fun.
  • YouTube cover requests.

Deborah Isaac of Debs and Errol said:

Our “model” of marketing really comes down to a few points:

1) We collaborate with fans and try to keep our fans as involved as we can with our projects.
Actually, I’d much rather call them “friends” than “fans” because “fans” sounds unbalanced and impersonal and creates an “us vs. them” space which doesn’t really fit us. We would rather have a two-way street than throw things at them.

Here are a few ways we have done this with the CD we’re releasing in a few months:

  • We held a contest asking fans to suggest song titles and then had everyone vote on their favourite, which we then fleshed out into a song that will appear on the CD.
  • We put out an open call for fans to record clips that we will edit into one of the songs.
  • We’re fan-funding.

A few other ways:

  • We’ll take their input and turn it into comics (sometimes bringing them on as guest characters).
  • We’ll take their song suggestions and add to our repertoire.

2) We keep it transparent (aka real!).
People genuinely want to know the ins and outs. When something great happens, we talk about it. When something not so great happens—like, if I’m having a really tough time recording and go a little crazy and Errol comes over and washes my dishes—we’ll talk about that too. It’s human, way more realistic and infinitely more interesting than presenting a one-dimensional cardboard point of view. The comics are a great tool for this, so are blogs, vblogs, tweets, etc.

3) We don’t force it.
Well, we try not to, but like everyone else we’re learning. We have never sat down together and thought “how can we get more people to listen to our music?” We didn’t decide to create a comic because it was a great marketing tool; Errol just thought it would be fun. It just also happens to be a great marketing tool.

Often, marketing just happens alongside what we’re doing anyway. For example, including clips of fans on our CD will make them far more likely to say to their friends, “Look, I’m on this CD, you should check it out!” As part of our fan-funding package, we will do YouTube covers or write songs for fans who donate a certain amount. That means our fans feel special and we add another song into the mix. That also means more videos which will potentially reach more people.

In other words, most of our marketing isn’t done for the sole purpose of marketing. We try our best to market in ways that don’t feel like marketing at all, so it won’t turn people off.

Of course, we’re still a fairly new band. We’ll see if this ends up working, but so far so good!

Paul Potts said:

I am pretty much a complete part-time amateur and although I’ve been playing guitar on and off, mostly off, for quite a few years, it’s only in the last few three or four years that I’ve gotten to the point where I can actually sing a song while accompanying myself. I’ve written five or six original songs to date. It’s a very, very part-time endeavor for me, and I’m mostly someone who spends that limited time with headphones in my home studio recording or mixing rather than performing live. It’s a goal of mine to do more of the latter and especially to find some local folks to collaborate with.

I’ve done approximately zero promotion with the exception of a few tweets and Facebook posts and some podcast chats. I know almost nothing about it. One thing I have learned is that videos seem to be very important. It seems so far to be the case that ten times more people will circulate and share a video than they will an audio track. You can make a video really easily. My cover of Today’s the Day by Inverse T. Clown took me very little time, just an hour or so.

By comparison the Bandcamp page of the song shows about zero plays.

Something else I want to continue with is collaborating with more of you—recording parts for your songs or vice-versa. I haven’t done this yet but the plan is actually to upload all my source tracks for every complete original song. What’s the worst that could happen? No one will do anything with them. So I wasted a little bandwidth and disk space. Those things are becoming vanishingly cheap.

My license of choice is Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, but people might have different opinions about that.

Heather Miller said:

If you are keeping track of the things that come up over and over as good things, then yes, I’m a big fan of Bandcamp and Twitter and also Reverbnation and Steve Lawson’s philosophies. Also Derek Sivers has a great blog and ebooks. So does Bob Baker and Ariel Hyatt.

One thing that seems fairly obvious and yet sometimes still surprisingly underused/poorly used is YouTube. It’s so easy to make, post and share videos these days that I am rather shocked when I come across a musician who doesn’t have even one video! There are definitely the people who really finesse YouTube and have high quality stuff and a great regular “show” and following, but I really believe that if you want to play out and about, you’ve got to have at least one video that you can share with promoters/fans! And include your website address in the video! You never know when or where it’s going to be posted and therefore not shown with any and all of the information you may have put in the description box on YouTube. But please, also fill in the description box with something! And use the tags!! I’ve had more than one musician complain to me that people can’t find their videos on YouTube, or that YouTube is “broken” when people try to search, and when I ask them if the video has their name in the title and/or tags, they don’t. Argh!

http://soundcloud.com/ is a site I haven’t used all that much yet, but it’s rather like Bandcamp, I think, and I know a lot of the musicians I play on my show have used it to send me tracks. It has a feature where listeners can leave comments on specific parts of a song, and their comments pop up as the song is played, at least on the Soundcloud site, because you can also embed a player. Not 100% sure what the difference/advantage it is to Bandcamp, but another good resource.

http://noisetrade.com/ is an interesting one where you can give your music away for free in exchange for an email address, and it encourages people to tell their friends about you and leave tips. There have been times where you were required to suggest an album to 5 friends in order to get the free album; I don’t know if they are still using that model.

http://www.thesixtyone.com/ turns music listening into a game. You get points for listening to songs and giving the songs “hearts”, and they come up with different “quests”, like listening to the newest uploaded songs, or listening between the hours of 1am-3am, etc. The interface is kinda pretty but sometimes a little confusing to me.

If I was touring, I’m sure I would use http://www.artistdata.com/us/ more. It allows you to enter your tour dates in one place and to update on something like 30 sites at once. You can also schedule for it to send out messages/reminders, like “I’m playing a show at this venue tonight. 8pm.”

Speaking of scheduling, I often use http://hootsuite.com/ to schedule tweets for my radio show, so I don’t have to be distracted with tweeting while I’m on the air, and it can also send updates to Facebook at the same time.

http://www.stageit.com/ is an “online concert venue” that intrigues me, though I haven’t tried it out yet, from either a viewer or performers side of things. I guess it’s a lot like Ustream, but people have to actually buy tickets so you have a lot more control over who shows up, way, way less potential for trolls and I am pretty sure, but not entirely sure, that there are no ads.

That’s the top of my head stuff. There is so much out there!

Jeff MacDougall said:

Although I’m optimistic about Google+ use for musicians in the near future, nothing comes close to Twitter as a useful social networking tool. There are different strategies that can work that can use another social network, i.e., Facebook, YouYube, or social music platform, i.e., ReverbNation, but I feel they all need Twitter as the glue to make any of it work. Bottom line: In order for any social networking idea to work, it requires authentic posts, or tweets, to be successful. The best tool for that is still Twitter.

One thing that is missing, just a little bit, from the above conversation is live performances. A lot of people are still trying to be heard in a noisy bar or other ‘traditional’ locations. I suggest making use of house concerts. One musician who is very successful with that is Marian Call. I understand that not every one does music full-time like Marian, however, there is still the opportunity for you to do house concerts in your area. A few months ago, I interviewed Marian and we discussed her new marketing tools, including her crazy house concert schedule. If you are interested in this interview, you can listen to it and download it here.

Something that John Anealio left out was that he has done a couple remix contests. This not only gets your music heard by other musicians, but the musicians who remix your song will be bringing in new listeners. Alternatively, you can invite your supporters to remix any of your songs at any time.

Publishing your content under a Creative Commons license makes this possible, without having to worry about copyright infringement. You still own the copyrights, but depending on which license you attach to your content, your content is free to share and be used for other projects, thus increasing your listening audience. A few years ago, Jonathan Coulton and I had a good discussion about why he chooses to release his music under Creative Commons and what it means to do so. If you are interested in listening to and downloading this interview, you can do so here.

There are still loads more tools for you to use, but I think the above novel is a good starting point. Don’t be afraid to mix things up and try new things. If the first thing doesn’t work, ask your supporters why it isn’t working for them and what you can be doing differently. Get them involved.

If you use any new marketing tools, what are they?