Monday, 31 January 2011

Music Distribution Online

On Friday, Andrew Dubber came to talk to a group of musicians/promoters at Embrace Arts about his New Music Strategies theories and here's is a link to his ebook: And he can be found at

At the session, Natalie mentioned the new Leicester Music Collective: and their events and listings service.

We also talked about the merits of: - where you can share music and get feedback - where you can encourage people to invest in your creative projects - which helps artists sell their music and merchandising to fans

Also Nick Dunne of Horus Music is leading a free workshop for us as follows:

Music Distribution Workshop
Wed 16 February, 4pm – 6pm. Garden Room, Leicester Creative Business Depot, 31 Rutland St, Leicester LE1 1RE
Nick Dunne of Horus Music leads a workshop to discuss any issues around music distribution including contracts, distribution, management, labels, roles of various people and companies, how to deal with piracy, international opportunities, sync etc. Horus Music Limited was established in 2005 and began with its roots firmly in management. Since then the company has expanded with its own label, publishing and distribution company. They are direct suppliers to all major digital stores around the world and don’t use the services of aggregators or other distributors. Book here

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Four technology trends to watch in 2011

This came through the email today; it looks at how IT will affect business this year and what new technology could give you an advantage

1. It’ll be easier to run your business using free services
Paul Lewis is head of marketing at
MOO, an online printing firm that specialises in business cards. He thinks 2011 will be the year of “freemium” tools, which offer a basic service free and charge for more advanced functions.

“Freemium tools such as project management service Huddle and online backup tool Dropbox will gain more awareness,” he says. “They help new companies take the first steps, whereas before people didn’t know how to do those things or couldn’t afford the outlay.”

Lewis also thinks it could become easier for businesses to start accepting card payments. “In the US there’s a company called Square that lets small businesses accept credit card payments remotely,” he explains.

“You get a free gadget that plugs into a smart phone or iPad. You don’t need a business bank account and it’s ‘plug and play’ ― so anyone can start selling at events and on the road.” Square is cagey about its international expansion plans, but it could be a sign of what’s to come.

2. Quora will be the social media star of 2011
Quora is essentially a cross between Twitter and Yahoo Answers,” says technology and PR blogger Phil Szomszor. “From a business point of view, it provides exciting possibilities.

“It’s a great opportunity for businesses to answer questions in their field of interest and demonstrate their expertise. I’ve also noticed journalists using it to source information, so it could be a good way to find PR opportunities.

“Companies could also use Quora to offer customer service ― for instance, by responding to questions and complaints as many already do with Twitter. However, the challenge is how to integrate it with other customer service channels and distinguish those people who really want help from those who just want to vent.”

3. Potential customers will expect you to respond immediately

“As smart phones become even more common and more people use the internet on the move, mobile commerce will become embedded in everyday life,” predicts David Hill, chairman of small-business phone company Cloudnet Telecommunications Ltd.

“As a result, customers will expect information to be available instantly. Whenever they think of a question, they will expect their iPhone or iPad to answer it, there and then. So in order to succeed, businesses must be geared up to provide fast responses which are specific to each individual customer’s query.

“For example, if your customer wants a black computer that runs silently and has a one terabyte disk, you’d better make sure that exact computer comes top of the results when they search for it on your website. And if they can access the details on their phone, that’s all the better, because they might be checking out online prices while visiting high street retailers."

4. You won’t pay for software in one lump sum
Ciaran Kenny is managing director of
Macnamara, an IT services company. “In 2011 we’ll start to see the elimination of upfront software costs,” he says. “We’ve already seen companies reduce onsite servers in favour of cloud computing. Now we’ll start to see businesses moving their desktop software — like Microsoft Office ― into the cloud too.”

This means that instead of paying a hefty fee to purchase software, you’ll pay a small monthly charge to access it over the internet.

“Everyone’s watching how Microsoft decides to sell Office” explains Kenny. This software includes Microsoft Word and Excel and currently costs around £400. “I think we’ll see them switch to a model where it costs about £10 a month for each person in your business,” he continues. “When in 2011 that’ll happen is anyone’s guess, but I think they’ll have to do it.”

What do you think of these trends?

Macmillan Cancer Support - Soul Feathers

Leicestershire based Indigo Dreams Publishing have published an anthology to aid the work of Macmillan Cancer Support. Soul Feathers is 280 pages and retails for just £11.00. It has received support from many high profile names and contains work from Carol Ann Duffy, Seamus Heaney, Bob Dylan, Maya Angelou, Benjamin Zephaniah, Leonard Cohen, Sharon Olds, Philip Gross and many others. Soul Feathers is being distributed by Central Books and can be purchased from www.indigodreamsbookshop/soulfeathers or any book retailer. It is currently in the Top 10 Bestselling books in the Poetry and Drama list at Waterstone’s. Further information

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Creative Sole Traders set to rise

We have just published a report on self-employment in the creative sector which was co-commissioned with the Arts Council. Key findings from the report show that creative sole traders make up 31% of creative sector businesses in Leicester & Leicestershire as well as nationally. This compares with 17% sole trader businesses in the construction sector and a suprisingly high (to me) 32% in financial services. The report shows that self-employment in the creative sector is set to rise, and that creatives find it harder to make the transition to employing people than those in other sectors, it also shows that over half of creative sole traders have significant social as well as economic outcomes from their work. For the full report please see

Monday, 24 January 2011

Trend Prediction

Following the seminar led by Helen Howe at the LCB Depot last week, here are a few links which may be useful if you design and/or make anything which is influenced by trends (fashion, jewellery & accessories & anything for home interiors):

WGSN is the leading online trend-analysis and research service providing creative and business intelligence for the apparel, style, design and retail industries – however a subscription is very expensive for the sole trader and nothing is given away for free.

Trendstop and its blog
A slightly cheaper trend forecasting and analysis service. They also have a mobile application called Trendtracker which you can download here:

Trend Bible
Trend predictors and research consultants who tend to focus on home interiors and cross over into food, packaging and other non-fashion areas. Lots of interesting links on their blog.

Print & Pattern
A UK-based blog that celebrates all aspects of printed surface pattern including textiles, cards, gift wrap, stationery, wallpaper, tableware, books, illustration.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Comedy Festival Preview

Saw the bestComedy Festival Preview show so far (in our view) at De Montfort Hall on Friday with highlights of Terri Alderton and Andrew Lawrence.

We are promoting the Life After Edinburgh event (for performers) at Embrace Arts as part of the festival which will be useful for all performers. See