The Joys Of Music Blogging (aka The Rural Alberta Advantage Is Awesome)

For as long as I’ve been blogging (5+ years), I’ve been posting mp3s to the Internet. I do all of that now at but you can always click on the black banner at the bottom of this blog page and listen to the latest tracks I’ve posted.

I mainly blog music to share it with the people who read this blog and my tumblog. I love new music and discovering it and sharing it. And there are a ton of people I know who share this love of music blogging and they are constantly turning me onto new music. It’s like we’ve recreated the dynamic we had in our college dorms when we would take turns putting vinyl records on the turntable.

But there’s another reason I love music blogging. From time to time, I actually hear from the artists themselves. I’ve never stopped being a fan. When I get to meet musicians, I am always like the little kid pinching themselves wtih disbelief. I’m a groupie and proud of it.

Back at the end of last year, I was tipped off by a blog reader named Luke to a band called The Rural Alberta Advantage. I blogged some of their music at and you can listen to a bunch more of it at the Hype Machine. And I gave the record honorable mention on my top ten records of 2008 post.

This morning I picked up an email from Amy, one of the three band members:

Hi Fred,

It’s Amy from the Rural Alberta Advantage here…I just wanted to send a belated THANK YOU for putting us on your Honourable Mention list for your Top Records of 2008!  We received an email out of the blue from someone saying "just a heads-up that one of the most popular websites on the internet gave you a shout-out"!  and directing us to your site. So awesome! We really can’t believe how many people have heard our record now. It’s a pretty exciting feeling to know that almost every day we’re going to be hearing from someone else, from a place we’ve never played, talking about our songs. So thank you for helping us get our record out there!

I also wanted to invite you to come see us play in New York City (our first time out of Canada!) – we’re playing at a place called Piano’s NYC (on the lower east side of Manhattan) on Tuesday, January 27th. Then we are 99% for sure playing again in Brooklyn at Union Hall on Friday, February 6th.

Thanks again for listening Fred, and hope to see you on the 27th! (or the 6th!)


Now how freakin awesome is that? A thank you note and an invitation to come see them play their first gig in NYC. Of course, I’ll be there at the Piano’s show, along with the Gotham Gal. Tickets are $8, so if you like their music as much as I do and you live in NYC, you should come too. And while you are at it, get the record, called Hometowns.

As a bonus, I am doing something I rarely do these days. Here’s an mp3 of my favorite track on the record:

Edmonton – Rural Alberta Advantage – Hometowns

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#My Music#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. fredwilson

    That¹s why they call it the ³web²!!

  2. Julien

    Awesome! I Love this track!

  3. Rick Mason

    These guys are amazing for sure! Strange story about this for me was, I also discovered them on a music blog. But it turns out one of their members is the boyfriend of one of my friends. I had no idea until I saw his picture on yet another blog post about the band. It never ceases to amaze me how the web creates such intricate connections between like-minded people.

  4. markslater

    right around the corner from stanton social – sounds like your night is made fred

    1. fredwilson


  5. LukeH

    Great story, Fred. They are such a great band. Still on top of my play charts. Enjoy their show. I’m envious that I’m not in NYC to see them.

  6. Down Round

    Hey Fred, that’s an amazing story. Glad you’re going to experience a little bit of Toronto love soon.

  7. brooksjordan

    Yesterday, John Hagel commented in Facebook:”. . . search and engagement can be parallel but I also like the contrast between search and serendipity – I search for things I need but I end up attracting and connecting with people online that I never even knew existed and who unexpectedly contributed to my work and life. Serendipity trumps search, at least for me. The most valuable experiences are the ones I wasn’t looking for.”This interaction with you and Amy (and the band) is a perfect example of engagement.Loved the song, too.

  8. Yancey

    Thanks for talking about the RAA, Fred. I wanted to mention that the only legal place to download Hometowns, which is excellent, is from eMusic, where we signed the band back in November. Help get them paid!

    1. Down Round

      Hometowns is also available on iTunes.

    2. fredwilson

      Yancey, when I first discovered RAA, I had to download Hometowns at emusic,which was fine because I am a member and have a lot of download creditsBut it¹s not ideal for someone who wants to check out RAA but is not amember of emusicAs much as I love emusic and use it for every purchase I can make there, Ithink doing an exclusive for a band is wrongTo that end, RAA is now available at amazon and the link in this post is tothat service because anyone can go there and get it without having to becomea member

      1. Yancey

        Hey Fred –Yeah, the album *just* became available on iTunes and Amazon yesterday, and I wasn’t aware that it was up there already, hence the error in my post.The reason why this album was exclusive to eMusic is that we went out and signed this band, just like we did High Places, Crystal Stilts, Deastro, Blue Giant and on and on. Many of those bands I think folks here would love (Deastro in particular is a future superstar, for real). The eMusic deals only ask for a 60-day exclusivity for press purposes: the whole time we are actively working to get them signed to a label, working on their behalf. And meanwhile they get paid for their downloads, which, for some bands, has reached into five figures for as little as a month’s worth of downloads. A good deal for artists, if you ask me.Anyway, I don’t want to just be touting eMusic here, but it’s part of what makes the service something special for folks who are into indie stuff: we do far more than just sell music, and I like to think that it shows when we’re lucky enough to come across bands as wonderful as the Rural Alberta Advantage. They’re great folks who deserve every bit of attention they get.

        1. fredwilson

          I love that you are doing all this legwork for the artists but I think the emusic business model is not ideally suited to exclusives because of the membership approachIf you are going to be the exclusive place to get music, you should allow people to just buy the record and not have to join emusicThat’s my view anyway

          1. Fraser

            I listen to a lot of music online. I buy a lot of music online. I’ve never purchased from emusic because of the hassle of becoming a member.

  9. Tom Purves

    Cool! RAA rock. One of my top picks from 2008 as well.Now you have to go to the show 😉

    1. fredwilson

      That¹s happening for sure

  10. jakemintz

    The RAA has been one of my favorite new bands since you introduced them to me in your top10 post. Thanks again! It is awesome when musicians respond with something other than a takedown notice. Tell them they need to play in Chicago; I promise to bring an army.

    1. fredwilson

      Amy read this post, I hope she read the comments too

  11. lazerow

    You’re killing me. Love these guys. Really like their song “Don’t Haunt This Place.” It has a folksy, rock thing going on. I’m in SF that week. Doh. Would have loved to see this show. Should be a good one. Tell Mark, AT and the gang I say hello.

    1. fredwilson

      I didn¹t see this comment Mike until the plane ride home. Mark and the creware doing well and would have enjoyed hearing from you.

  12. Dave Hyndman

    Great story, Fred! A nice proof-point for those of us that maintain that sharing music *helps* music sales. As I mentioned before, I bought RAA from eMusic based on your mention in the ’08 list.A good counter to lots of recent news of MP3 takedown notices being served to a lot of music blogs:http://coverlaydown.blogspohttp://fiftycentlighter.blo

    1. fredwilson

      In all my years of posting mp3s I¹ve only had one takedown notice

  13. Kendal H

    Since I live in Edmonton (Alberta), I was the guy that emailed these guys out of the blue and let them know about it. Good to see that it has come full circle!

    1. brooksjordan

      Nice work, Kendal!

    2. fredwilson

      Thanks Kendal. One small point. This is not one of the biggest websites inthe world. But the community here sure does like RAA!

  14. Mark Schoneveld

    This is *exactly* why I blog about music. It’s so much fun to share underground bands and participate in their development. And hey, who doesn’t want to get a little love back from some great artists. Let this also be a reminder to bands out there – use those free tools like Google Alerts, et al to stay on top of who’s blogging about you and send them a lil’ love. It can only lead to good things. Like building a loyal audience.

    1. fredwilson

      Right on

  15. vincentvw

    Man, that’s a great track! Thanks for that!

  16. Mark

    Fred,I love this story. In fact, I just sent an email to Tom Allen, the host of the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s (CBC) hugely popular Radio2 Morning show, describing the whole episode and requested that Tom show some down home Canadian love and play some RAA on his show. I’ve included a copy of my email below. Hopefully, all this will propel RAA to superstardom. They deserve it!Tom,Here’s a great story. RAA is a fabulous Canadian indie band. Originally from Alberta but now based in Toronto they “play indie-rock songs about hometowns and heartbreak, born out of images from growing up in Central and Northern Alberta.” Their new record is called Hometowns and it is awesome.So, here’s the story. Fred Wilson is a very well known and successful venture capitalist based in New York City. He is the founder of Union Square Ventures and makes investments in early stage technology companies, such as Twitter. Now, Fred is also a music enthusiast. He regularly blogs about music on his Tumblr page and also posts daily tracks at the end of last year, Fred put together his best of 2008 list and included RAA as an honorable mention. Flash forward to yesterday when Amy of RAA sent Fred an email saying that she heard from someone that Fred posted about RAA on his blog and that RAA music was now being heard by new listeners in the US. Amy was so grateful that she invited Fred to RAA’s first concert outside of Canada in NYC later this month. Well, Fred blogged about all this today and now RAA is officially in with the in crowd of music loving Web 2.0 tech geeks in the US and around the world.So, with that as a backdrop, let’s hear some RAA on Radio2 Morning and give some homegrown CBC “love” to Amy and the band.

    1. fredwilson

      I love it. We are all getting into making them big, as they should be.

  17. Jarett

    I love that this group’s promoting our province (and my hometown) in their name and songs. Rock on!

  18. Paolo

    Yeah, amazing story. Thanks for sharing. It’s always a pleasure to ear that there are still wise artists, able to understand how important the Internet is today for their career. I wish them all the best. Hope they won’t change their attitude when the majors will knock on their door…

    1. fredwilson

      He¹s spot on, as usual.But there are always exceptions to every rule.You just have to look hard to find them.

  19. fredwilson

    I don¹t think I need to tell her because she is reading this blog, or atleast this post!

  20. mydigitalself

    Thanks Fred, I hadn’t heard RAA before – love them and I’ve added them to my new blog too. Check it out if you’re interested, I think you might like the sort of music I do. Link is intentionally at the bottom of the post as I’m not here to pimp my site.I started this very recently, more as an experiment on social recommendations than anything else. I really wanted to understand if I was sharing something with my social network, what sort of response one gets – in particular in the conversion of a sale. I thought music was probably the best vehicle to do this as I’m fairly well versed in what sort of music my friends like, it’s fairly inexpensive, and using some affiliate programs, I can track right the way through from impression, listen to conversion.I must say I’m fairly disappointed with the results so far. Ok, it’s only been running for a week and this isn’t trying to make me money, so perhaps I’m not putting enough effort into “selling”. I’ve got 255 friends on Facebook and am very familiar with the musical taste of around 50 of them and roughly know what the others listen to. Everytime I post an article, I share the link on Facebook.I’ve posted 5 tracks/albums.I’ve had 246 page views (ok-ish, I think), 73 visits and 43 unique visitors.I’ve had 50 listensSo those are ok. Here’s the rub. Only 6 click-throughs and not a single purchase.My CTR rate on the listens is quite good then – just over 10%.I’m quite disapointed then that not a single one of my friends has bought a single track and I’m trying to figure out why.Either:1) My friends don’t like my music – I don’t believe this to be the case, we go to loads of gigs together2) They have the music already – Again, I don’t think so as I know what my close friends have and I’ve made a point of putting up stuff I know they mostly don’t3) I’m not putting enough effort into “selling” – But that’s the whole point of the experiment, it’s social recommendations, I’m not trying to peddle stuff to my friends to make money off. I mean, God, I can make like maybe a dollar a month on the referrals and I’ve told them as much. The affiliate stuff is there for tracking this experiment.Again, I know it’s probably too early to tell, but my theory is that social recommendations are only helpful when people are looking for something. When my friends are checking their Facebook, they are there to communicate, not to buy stuff and so their mental model at the time is not the right frame of mind to make a purchase.The other theory I have is that my friends would prefer iTunes links and I haven’t managed to hook up the iTunes Affiliate Program here in the UK. I’m going to ask them about that one.The one interesting anomaly to this is my Trentemoller post (… where I linked through to an event where you can buy tickets. Now this isn’t tracked by any affiliate, but I got comments on the post in Facebook and as a result of that post 3 people bought tickets to the gig.M current theory around that one is that a gig IS a social event , hence the more effective result.I’m going to keep sticking at this for the whole of January and if you’re interested in the results, I’d be happy to share them.

    1. fredwilson

      I¹ve been tracking this sort of thing for the past five yearsI sell a ton of music on my blogJust look at this comment threadThere¹s at least 3-4 comments from people who bought the RAA record based onmy original postYou just have to keep at it and sell harder

  21. Ric

    Tell Amy I’ve bought the album (via eMusic) because of your recommendation (and yes – I DID wait for the next month’s quota!) all the way from Australia …

  22. fredwilson

    That’s great

  23. fredwilson

    I’ll give that a try. I’ve been waiting for someone to do that for a long time

  24. Jamie Wu

    Hi Fred,Just started reading your blog, enjoying your posts. Shamless plug for the music company I work for — 🙂 You can now embed songs without even owning the mp3! Just a few lines of html will get you going, I invite you to check it out:…cheers!Jamie

    1. jakemintz

      I really like what you guys are doing but a lot of the music I listen to you don’t have. For example, there are no tracks from The Rural Alberta Advantage, the topic of this post, on Keep up the good work but load some more indie tracks! I bet indie is written about by a large portion of the people who would appreciate your embeddable player.

  25. LGBlueSky

    Thanks for the track. I sent it to my husband who works in the music business (for the past 15 years) and he will try to make it to the show as well. I had also reached out to Gotham Gal on some photography questions so there are lots of synergies happening !

  26. Fraser

    I can’t see how to buy tickets for the show on that crazy site. Maybe they’re sold out? Maybe they’re not available yet? Sad, because they’ve been in heavy rotation for the past month.

  27. fredwilson

    It sure is. I pinch myself about that everyday too.