Posted on 03-06-2012
Filed Under (links and resources) by Jon Stinson

Through the digital media, marketing, and artist management company I started back in 2007, I got plenty of experience in releasing and marketing albums, and plenty of experience using the iTunes Store to do this.

So when I set out to create an iPhone app, I had a pretty realistic (interpret that pessimistic) opinion of what would happen once it went live on the App Store. My viewpoint at that time was that marketing an app was a lot like marketing music – you had to get an app present in the App Store, and then blog, email, tweet, Facebook, and advertise for it in order to get downloads. Just another reason to hold out and not jump into the app industry. I didn’t believe I would be able to get my message out to a large enough audience, and I didn’t believe I would be able to get any downloads.

That’s when I learned about building a network. Probably the most powerful thing I learned when making my iPhone app is the power of building a network of apps.

What is building a network of apps? Building a network of apps is simply the process of creating as many quality apps as possible, as quickly as possible. The more apps you develop and release, the more present you are on the App Store. The more present you are on the App Store, the more cumulative downloads you get across your network.

Luckily, the App Store and it’s buyers are a completely different world apart from the iTunes Store and it’s buyers. Music buyers on the iTunes Store aren’t nearly as motivated and eager in their purchasing decisions as app buyers searching the App Store for the next cool thing.

One of the most powerful aspects of mobile apps the the capability to strike on an opportune moment. Think about it. When searching for a customer to buy a product you are selling, you don’t want to waste your time talking to anyone and everyone about what you are selling. You want to communicate directly with the right people. In other words, you want qualified leads.

You don’t get a more qualified lead than someone who just downloaded your app. And the best place to tell someone about an iPhone app is from within another iPhone app. Once someone downloads your app you have them in your network, and now have the opportunity to talk to them directly about any of the other apps you have available on the App Store.

You wouldn’t believe how well this converts. This tactic is the reason why so many of the apps put out by the bigger developers, such as Facebook, Synthetic, Zynga, and Rovio are near instant hits. They have managed to grow their networks to a large enough size that they will get millions of downloads by simply advertising a new app from within an app that is already one of their established hits.

Learning this tactic was such a powerful moment for me, as I instantly saw how to efficiently and effectively market iPhone apps. With so many apps on the App Store today, most developers are simply missing the boat-marketing their apps all wrong and to the wrong audience. When working hard to build your network, over time your network will become large enough that you will essentially get free advertising for all your apps. At this point building a profitable app business almost comes down to a simple three step process:

  • Build the app
  • Launch the app
  • Advertise the app in your network

I’ve mentioned Chap Mureta’s new course product called App Empire in some previous posts. The cart for this course is now open, and they are taking orders. Some of the people I learned valuable lessons from about building an app business were taught by Chad. I can’t emphasize enough the value of learning how to quickly build a profitable app business from someone who has already achieved a high level of success.

If you’re at all interested in building a highly profitable business creating iPhone apps, click the link below to watch the free video series Chad put together.

The first two videos share powerful information on how to properly conduct market research in order to determine what kind of app will be most profitable, and then how to properly market an app to begin bringing in tons of downloads and earning an income. The third video shows case studies of people who have been successful in the app business, and the fourth video gives you the full details of what Chad’s system is.

Don’t wait too long to make your final decision to get started. With limited quantity available, this course is selling out very fast!

//Jon

[In full disclosure I want to be upfront and tell you the posted link is an affiliate link, and if you click it, I do stand to make some money. But I would NEVER endorse a product or service that I didn't fully believe had legitimate value.]

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Posted on 29-05-2012
Filed Under (announcements) by Jon Stinson

I got into the iPhone app business right around the same time as one of my closest and longtime friends, Austin. Austin and I have always been quite full of imagination, forging directly into the heart of the wonder of the world. We both have a taste for the colorful adventure our individual creative muses take us on, and the indescribable feeling of elation one gets when we’ve produced something that creates meaning in the world.

And Austin’s first iPhone app, Mustache Bash, certainly created meaning. Mustache Bash currently has over 200,000 downloads and counting. That means if you gathered everyone who downloaded the app together, they would fill up almost four football fields. I can’t completely wrap my mind around that…

Well Austin is not stopping there. He’s already got his next app planned, an app called Make Me Ugly.

Make Me Ugly will be an entertainment app for the iPhone, and continues Austin’s theme of creating funny pictures fast (the catch phrase from Mustache Bash).

In order to pull it off, Austin needs the help of the community, and has put together a Kickstarter campaign with some not only hilarious, but awesome rewards packages. Take a look:

Click here to join Austin on his adventure, helping 1 million people around the world smile :)

//Jon

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When I first made the decision to start a business creating iPhone apps, it really came down to three key lessons I learned that completely shifted my way of thinking, pushing my mind past the typical objections that usually surface, and cause people to talk themselves out of getting started.

Here’s what I learned:

1) You can make an iPhone app for WAY less than $30,000

I first began entertaining the idea of making iPhone apps in 2007 when I was producing and managing a few rock bands. My idea then was to come up with a way to market the artists I was working with in an innovative and interactive way. iPhone apps seemed like the perfect tool for this.

But all my friends and contacts that worked in this field (or other artist managers who had an app built for their artists) told me that I would need a budget of at least $30,000 to pull this off.

One of the most exciting discoveries for me was late last year when I met some developers who had never spent anywhere close to $30,000 to make any of the apps they had created. Some of their apps they even spent as little as a few hundred dollars to make!

2) You don’t need to know anything about actually writing code in order to create an app.

This discovery was quite possibly the single most exciting, not to mention empowering, discovery I learned when getting started with iPhone apps. Again, when I first began thinking about creating apps to market the artists I was working with in 2007, I thought the only way for me to keep the cost down was to learn how to write code and program an app on my own.

But I didn’t know the first thing about writing code, and didn’t have a single minute of my time to devote to learning how to do this. I was already producing and managing several artists, as well as trying to build a digital media and marketing company!

Then around August of 2011 I learned from the very same developers that were making their high-quality apps on a bare-bones budget, that they didn’t know how to write any code at all; they were outsourcing all of this work to freelancers who were doing all the coding and design work for them.

At this point, I was ready to make the jump. Once I learned that you can have a high quality app created for about the same cost as a day in the recording studio, I couldn’t wait any longer to get started. I had to jump into this industry while the timing was right.

3) If there are already a bunch of apps on the App Store that are similar to the one you want to create, that’s all the more reason to get started making the app.

Once I made the decision to get in, my next biggest struggle was figuring out what type of app to make. I spent a lot of time thinking about different apps, what kinds of apps I personally would like to have, and what kinds of apps my friends and colleagues would like to have.

I spent several days with pen and paper drawing up outlines, and jotting down ideas. When I came up with something I thought was interesting, I would search the App Store only to find out that there were 10, 20, and sometimes even 100′s of apps just like the one I wanted to create already out there.

That’s when I learned the final key lesson that served as a huge mental shift, giving me strong since of empowerment. Lots of similar apps only means lots of demand for a particular type of app.

The thing is, most apps end up falling into obscurity. This is the reason that you can have a successful app like Hipstamatic, and then a short time later Instagram comes out enjoying success as well.

Most people who make apps either get the design of the app wrong, the marketing of the app wrong, or both. Therefore, even if there are 100 apps just like the one you want to create already on the App Store, you should still move forward with your idea.

I learned a lot about making iPhone apps in a very short amount of time. I wouldn’t have been able to do this if I had not taken a course that was taught by one of the top app developers out there. At this early stage in my iPhone app business, there aren’t too many discoveries I’ve made entirely on my own, but rather were things I’ve been taught. Had I not taken a course like this, I would probably still be hung up on the notion that I had to learn how to write code in order to crate an app on a budget.

The guy that taught me everything learned quite a few things himself from a developer named Chad Mureta. Chad has put together a free video series in which he shares his knowledge on how to build a business out of making iPhone apps. The videos will be running for a limited period of time, so if you’re at all interested in this stuff, spend a few minutes watching the videos now.

//Jon

[In full disclosure I want to be upfront and tell you the posted link is an affiliate link, and if you click it, I do stand to make some money. But I would NEVER endorse a product or service that I didn't fully believe had legitimate value.]

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Posted on 27-05-2012
Filed Under (Sunday Shoegaze) by Jon Stinson

I have to give credit to Mother/Father for this one. Back when I was producing and managing them, they turned me on to Violens, and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.

“Truly genius” is pretty much the only way to describe a band like Violens. The three piece band based out of Brooklyn authentically blend shoegaze, jazz, funk, 60s vocal pop, hard rock, psychedelic, and alternative all into one “super-genre” as if they invented a whole new type of music altogether.

And when I say the blend the styles together, I don’t mean that one track might be a shoegaze song, while another track might be a jazz song… I mean they write music that has all of these elements infused into each song in a tasteful, and artistically sophisticated way.

Violens released their new album, True earlier this month, along with the single and video for “All Night Low” shortly thereafter.

“All Night Low” is like the modern shoegaze juggarnaught, and the video perfectly reinforces that power.

True was released earlier this month on Sumberland Records, and is available now via Slumberland Records, iTunes, Amazon, and eMusic

Violens have been blowing my mind ever since the first day I heard them. Definitely one of my favorites.

//Jon
Website: jonstinson.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/stnsn
Twitter: @stsn

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Posted on 25-05-2012
Filed Under (links and resources) by Jon Stinson

Well, it’s official… I’ve started making iPhone apps, and I’m loving it!

Last week I posted about my new iPhone game, Syntax!, and that I was really excited to have released my very first game ever on the App Store.

This week I’ve been doing some promotions for Syntax!, and it’s been such an exciting learning experience to see how this industry really works from the inside. It’s a pretty cool thrill ride to watch your app climb the charts on an hour-by-hour basis, and it’s pretty much got me addicted to this business.

As I mentioned in my post last week, making iPhone apps is something I’ve been interested in for quite a while, but hesitated to actually get into for 3 or 4 years. At the time I was pretty focused on building an artist marketing and management company, so naturally, I was very interested in iPhone apps that could promote recording artists in innovative ways.

At the time, there were several artists who were experimenting with this idea, and it looked like they were on to something pretty exciting and innovative. Seeing these artists release apps fired my mind up with seemingly endless ideas and possibilities for how music could be distributed in an innovative and interactive way, engaging fans, and growing a fanbase that any of us indie artists would not only be completely elated to have, but also a fanbase that would be ultra-engaged – the key ingredient to indie success.

The only problem (for me, at least), was that all my developer friends and contacts who were already working professionally in the iPhone app space were telling me how complex and expensive it is to build an iPhone app. I quickly found out that I was going to need to hire around a dozen people and have a budget of no less than $30,000. Deflated, I put all my app ideas on the back-burner in hopes to one day have the budget to be able to create an app.

That all changed when I accompanied a good friend of mine to San Diego last summer to attend a marketing seminar. My buddy had an extra seat available to the seminar, and invited me out. All I had to do was buy a plane ticket to get out there. And since I’ve got a huge passion for digital marketing, I jumped at the chance to go.

Attending the seminar in San Diego, set into motion a couple key thought processes, and suddenly I found myself inspired; I was thinking about iPhone apps all over again.

By late August of 2011 I was in. The guy who organized the seminar in San Diego put out a course on making iPhone apps. I signed up, and quickly began learning tons of information – stuff that it seemed like all my developer friends weren’t aware of. My perspective had completely changed. Now I was learning how it’s possible to make an iPhone app for substantially less than $30,000. My hope had finally come true. I could afford to make an app.

I made the decision to not talk about my app business side-project for a while, as I wanted to get a solid footing before I began posting thoughts and information about this on Producer Notes. But now that I’ve released my first app, I’m going to spend some time sharing thoughts and ideas about the iPhone app industry on this blog from time-to-time. I still intend to keep Producer Notes primarily about music recording and production, but I think it’s also valuable to occasionally share ideas about making apps. I’m currently building a website for my app company, and once it’s built I’ll be posting a lot more of this type of content there. I’ll make and announcement here when it goes live, and if this type of stuff interests you at all, you can check it out at that time.

I want to share a video with you from Chad Mureta. Chad is kinda the guy who started it all (in my newly formed group of developer friends), as I learned everything I know about making iPhone apps from the guy who learned from Chad. I recently bought Chad’s book, and have already picked up some things that I can’t wait to put into action.

If you’re interested at all in the iPhone app business, and would like to know how to get started building a business from making apps, then take a few minutes to watch this video. You might pick up a few key pieces of information like I did, that will completely remove the barrier that’s keeping you from getting started.

Now I gotta get back to that app promotion, and check in on how it’s doing!

//Jon

[In full disclosure I want to be upfront and tell you the posted link is an affiliate link, and if you click it, I do stand to make some money. But I would NEVER endorse a product or service that I didn't fully believe in, and as I've gone through a course just like this one in order to learn how to start an app business, I know first hand how incredibly valuable something like this is. I'm literally watching my iPhone game climb the charts on the App Store as I type this blog post.]

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Posted on 18-05-2012
Filed Under (announcements) by Jon Stinson

A few weeks ago, I released my first ever app for the iPhone. It’s a match-3 style puzzle game called Syntax!, and you can download it from the App Store here:

The main concept of Syntax! is based off the extremely popular game, Bejeweled. If you have never played Bejeweled, no worries, match-3 games are super easy and fun to pick up (all you do is match-3 symbols in a row).

Developing apps for the iPhone is something I’ve had my eye on for the last 3 or 4 years, but because it never felt like the timing was right for me in terms of resources, cost, and concept, I never jumped in.

Well, last August I finally decided that the timing was right, and made the leap. It’s been an awesome adventure so far, as I’ve learned a ton (and continue to learn) about the rapidly growing mobile industry.

Yeah, the mobile app industry certainly is a crowded space. And it’s pretty astonishing how quickly things change in this space (it pretty much really is on a daily basis). But I’ve been lucky enough to hook up with and learn from some of the best. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that making mobile apps is like anything else – you’re not gonna make waves overnite. It’s a slow build over time.

I’m excited and happy to share Syntax! with you today. I couldn’t be more proud of what I conceptualized, and the small team of coders and designers I put together brought into reality.

I think you’re really gonna love Syntax!, as I’ve incorporated more surprises and more action into the game than you typically find in a match-3 style game. The split-screen multiplayer mode is probably the best example of this, as you can directly challenge your friends, and see the moves they are making in real time!

Download Syntax! on the App Store now!

Here’s to the first of many. I’ve got big ideas for more apps and games, and look forward to developing more very soon!

//Jon

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Posted on 14-05-2012
Filed Under (recording) by Jon Stinson

The most expensive microphone I own cost me $700. I’ve recorded a lot of things with it – lead vocals, drums, guitars, piano, saxophone, accordion – tons of things. At Nashville Studio Live, a recording studio in Nashville that regularly hires me for sessions, this is the exact same microphone we use to track vocals on every session we do. It’s a great mic, and I’ve captured a countless amount of fantastic sounding recordings with it.

However, this particular $700 microphone is probably not the one I use the most. When I’m tracking a full band, I’ll use a whole bunch of different microphones, and the bulk of them are actually relatively cheap mics. Quite often, I’ll end up using a $100 mic to record a killer sounding lead vocal.

Now, I’ve certainly recorded with microphones that are very expensive-mics that cost $2,000, and sometimes even as expensive as $8,000. But I don’t own any mics that are this expensive. If I feel that a recording could benefit from using one of these super expensive mics, I either borrow it from a friend or rent it.

So here’s the point: it’s not necessary, and many times not even ideal to use really expensive microphones to record. So before you convince yourself that you “just have to drop $2,000 on the best microphone ever,” spend some time investigating whether or not that mic really is as necessary as you think it is.

At a certain point you might find that it is in fact a huge need to own a super expensive mic, and you will justifiably need to make that purchase. But I know personally that I’m not ever going to make this kind of high end purchase a day sooner than I have to-when my business begins to suffer because of an inadequacy of the gear I own (which has only happened a couple of times in the last 10 years). As a matter of fact, this rationale goes for all the other gear out there too.

//Jon
Website: jonstinson.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/stnsn
Twitter: @stsn

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SoundToys Little Radiator Plug-in

Man, I saw this promotion pop up earlier in the month, but I was so swamped with my current projects that I put it on my “I’ll get to that right away” list. And we all know what happens when you put to-do items on that list…

Bummed I didn’t get in on the action sooner, but in any case, I finally got in on the action today, and am really excited about my new SoundToys Little Radiator plug-in, which I’m downloading right now as I type this.

Get The SoundToys Little Radiator For FREE!
The Little Radiator is SoundToys’ unique twist on the classic sound of the Altec 1566A tube mic preamp. Much like they have done in previous plug-in releases, they decided to run a promotion this month (ends in just a few hours), in which you can download the Little Radiator for free.

For full details, and to get your free SoundToys Little Radiator, simply follow this link:

https://www.soundtoys.com/sxsw2012/&rc=308-7105-455

Hurry! This is all over in just a few short hours!!

//Jon
Website: jonstinson.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/stnsn
Twitter: @stsn

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Posted on 25-03-2012
Filed Under (inspiration) by Jon Stinson

This one’s more in the post-punk realm than the shoegaze realm, but there’s a fair amount of similarities in the two music styles (one of the main similarities being that they are two of my favorite styles of alternative rock).

Remember the debut record from Bloc Party, Silent Alarm? That record really made an impact on me – everything from the production style to the songwriting, to the interesting and poetic societal commentary which made up most of the lyrical content.

The lead single from that album was the song “Banquet”. It punched right through the indie rock scene in 2005, as it had such a brilliant blend of unique production and artistic characteristics. You had to pay attention.

To me this song feels like the perfect anthem for a nite of adventure. Imagine it’s 10pm. You’ve got plans to go out with your friends, and you’re waiting on the street corner for them to pick you up. Just then the car pulls around the corner, and you hop in. The whole nite’s adventure is ahead of you; the possibilities are infinite. That’s where this song takes me.

I haven’t kept up with Bloc Party too much after the release of their second album, which I honestly didn’t like too much. However, according to Wikipedia, they’ve got plans to put out a record in 2012.

blocparty.com

//Jon
Website: jonstinson.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/stnsn
Twitter: @stsn

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Posted on 20-03-2012
Filed Under (contemplations) by Jon Stinson

Invisible white space

It’s a very common line of thinking that the producer and engineer are not supposed to really influence the sound of the music; that they should mostly be invisible to the process of recording, so that the true identity of the band can really show.

But isn’t that why a particular producer gets hired? In order to provide guidance to the recording process, which in effect influences the sound?

Perhaps the line of thinking that producers should step out of the way comes from a certain era in music where things my have gotten out of hand, and the essence of an artist’s music was hi-jacked by the production and A&R team.

However, I can’t help but notice how often producers get hired because of a certain band they worked with or album they produced, myself included.

When a producer and/or engineer is hired to be a part of a project, to a considerable extent they are being invited into a collaborative process with the artist. There’s going to be a degree of influence on the sound that just comes with the territory.

I’m definitely not advocating that a producer, engineer, or anyone else should step in and change the fundamental musical identity of an artist… quite the opposite, really…

But it is an interesting question worth asking ourselves. Even if for no other reason but to keep ourselves in check, so as to not inadvertently eviscerate the very thing that makes an artist’s music special.

//Jon
Website: jonstinson.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/stnsn
Twitter: @stsn

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