Writing - Music IndustryComing soon…
Recently, I have helped many musicians, bands and record labels promote and market music releases across social media and my network of music websites known as the World Wide Release Database (WWRDB), including a site dedicated to electronic music - CyberNoise. In addition to all this I have many years of experience helping Microsoft UK launch multiple Macintosh software and hardware products, including Microsoft Office, Virtual PC, Outlook, Outlook Express and Internet Explorer plus USB mice, trackballs and keyboards. Although I was primarily working in technical support I cross-resourced with the marketing department as a technical marketing advisor and ended up travelling all over Europe to Microsoft and Apple offices, expos, shows, press launches, education facilities and MUGs (Mac User Groups). I've attended many exhibitions and expos plus I have performed presentations (internally, expos, press launches) and (sales) training including working on the copywriting and sales/technical documentation. Some of the launch events I have done over the years include:
For several years now I have been working with musicians, bands and record labels promoting and marketing music across my network of websites known as the World Wide Release Database (WWRDB) and this includes a site dedicated to electronic music, CyberNoise. Primary marketing is carried out for single/album releases and (vinyl) reissues across multiple platforms and in multiple ways across the CyberNoise website itself. Mostly, artwork is provided but in some cases artwork needs to be designed/repurposed by me and approved before use. Recently, I promoted The KLF's "Solid State Logik 2 - KLF Communications 12" Master Mixes 1989-2017" digital compilation album with artwork and a link for users to officially stream it on Apple Music or download it via the Apple iTunes Store. This was promoted across social media including the CyberNoise Twitter feed whereupon within 24 hours it had attained 51 retweets, 4 quote tweets and 101 likes! This promotion continued on the CyberNoise website with the promotional text and links appearing in the weekly news assimilation and also promoted on the album event page with official links to stream and purchase the music via Apple Music, Apple iTunes Store, Amazon and additional affiliates. The embedded Apple Music streaming box is also used in banner advertising appearing across multiple WWRDB network sites. In some cases promotional social media posts can be pre-entered and timed to appear on specific days/at specific times, through my use of specialist software e.g. Tweetdeck for Twitter and Hootsuite for FaceBook and Instagram (and there are others such as Ripl and SEMrush for bigger business requirements).
Business branding requires working with a client/company to formulate an overall logo and experience across multiple plaforms including physical and digital. The physical world may require business cards, letterheads, brochures, leaflets, signage, gift vouchers and many other products. Digital content may be required for websites, email/newsletters, social media (Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn), advertising/marketing/promotions, user interface (UI/UX) and software/applications.
Considerations have to be taken into account for cultural and social differences which can include simple, but highly recognisable mistakes, like US versus British English e.g. color / colour, number delimiters e.g. 100.000,00 versus 100,000.00, physical sizes e.g. business cards in different countries (United Kingdom versus Czech Republic).
I worked with a local hair stylist and salon in Prague to design a new look for their business and created multiple physical products for the salon, their marketing and digital graphics for their website and social media presences.
The World Wide Release Database (WWRDB) has a network of websites covering many different music genres. Logos were needed for each site/brand along with related digital assets. A few of these are presented below.
Designing any promotional materials has to reflect what is being promoted, to whom and on what platform. Design aesthetics need to take into account what is being sold, what the call to action is and the target audience. It is important when designing promotional assets in the modern age that consideration is given to multiple platforms from large scale physical posters down to small mobile banners and buttons (UI/UX). Below I present a concept design for one of my favourite bands, Die Krupps, and the release of their 2020 album "Vision 2020 Vision". The industrial design with the in your face orange explosive palette, is also combined with symbolic, modern requirements such as standout website address and streaming music service logos, offering important calls to action. And then the design is repurposed for multiple platforms, large to small.
Over a period of a few months, an online music store (Lexer Music) needed some banner adverts for their website to advertise special music releases and promotions. I helped produce these banner adverts including one that was a simple animated GIF.
I've been playing, working with and coding on computers since 1981 (the Sinclair ZX81). In 1991 I used my first Apple Macintosh computer and instantly had an understanding of the importance of the GUI (Graphical User Interface). Along with the important of the UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) I became heavily involved in DTP (Desktop Publishing) as part of my employment but also through self producing and publishing numerous fanzines and books. During this period I was trouble-shooting and helping the local printers with their computers and RIPs and I discovered that I had a natural ability with the technical side of computers.
For over 25 years I've sold, supported, promoted and run training on all manners of IT (Information Technology) and I have experience of technical writing including product documentation, markdown, help documents, promotional materials, training manuals and online articles. You can see a large number of my current technical articles online over on my MacStrategy website, which has technical information about all manner of Apple related products. While I worked for Apple and Microsoft I produced support documents that could be sent, faxed, emailed or downloaded by users or used internally by different levels of support staff/departments.
While consulting for and supporting numerous companies, especially in the print/publishing field, I produced many help documents for users of all levels of technical ability. Unfortunately, many help documents for specific companies have confidential information on them so I cannot put them online here. But here are a few that do not compromise anything while still offering an opportunity to see how I can effectively write documentation that helps users work with technical products:
Since helping Microsoft launch Office 98, 2001, v.X and 2004 for Macintosh, for over 20 years I have been writing copy for multiple companies, products, promotions and services. This ranges from product press launches, technology exhibitions, promotional products, brochures, adverts, websites and social media. Running my own business from 2001 onwards I wrote the copy for all our services, websites and promotional materials. I've also helped other companies write theirs. My company built and ran a multi-city spanning tourist website (allcapitals.com) where promotional copy was required for many areas of the site including the promotion thereof. We also built and ran a million pound turnover e-commerce platform selling IT accessories (allmacshop.com) where promotional copy was also required for many areas of the site including the promotion thereof. I now run multiple websites where copy is always required and work with clients of the websites to help promote their products not only on the website but also on social media. Some of the primary sites where I do this are Burning Helix (my own company) and CyberNoise (a website dedicated to electronic music). Promotional content for CyberNoise includes:
In 2001 my company (Burning Helix) planned, designed, created and built our own database driven, dynamic website allpraha.com. This was a city tourism website for Prague in the Czech Republic and included English and Czech language versions, secure user account login, business index, calendar events, search, sharing tools, articles, blog posts, email newsletters, 18+ area, exchange rates, weather, marketing advertisements, content reviews and ratings. It was one of the first large scale English language tourist websites for Prague. We developed the codebase into allcapitals.com that could cover any capital city in the world and the initial expansion covered the seven Eastern Bloc capital cities whose countries were looking to become European Union members in 2004. Over the years I was an integral part of this project, managing the business and people involved in its creation and running, contributing ideas and also working on a lot of the copywriting, marketing, documentation and business client contracts. I sold the whole project as a going concern to expats.cz in the early 2010s. Forgive the basic design compared to modern standards - it was 20+ years ago.
In 2005 my company (Burning Helix) planned, designed, created and built a database driven, dynamic e-commerce platform macheaven.com. With the burgeoning Apple Macintosh market the website sold software and accessories for all of Apple's products. The idea was to work with major product distributors, automate the downloading of a price/stock list from the distributor, importing and using the data for own site, sell direct to customers and have the distributor dropship the product directly to the client, bypassing the need to have a physical bricks-and-mortar store. This project was initially for a client but the client managed the site so badly we brought the system back in-house and continued developing and running the site as allmacshop.co.uk ourselves. We also expanded the system to cover non-Apple computers with a sister accessories site pcdeli.co.uk.
The websites included secure user account login, huge distributor catalogue product lists, search, articles, blog posts, email newsletters, marketing advertisements, content reviews and ratings, secure checkout with credit card processing including our own additional fraud prevention measures. Within two years it was a £1million+ turnover business. I was an integral part of this project, managing the business and people involved in its creation and running, contributing ideas, customer sales/support training, and working on a lot of the copywriting, marketing and documentation. Although the business was profitable, I saw the exponential rise of Amazon and online fraud at the time as ongoing major problems for the business. So I sold the whole project as a profitable concern to a leading official Apple Authorised Reseller in the UK in the early 2010s. Forgive the basic design compared to modern standards - it was 15+ years ago.
I started collecting records in 1985 and I became inherently interested in what my favourite artists had released so I could try and obtain all their music/collect everything they had released. In the 1980's there was no internet to obtain any information. The only methods available were shops, record fairs and magazines like Record Collector (in the UK) and Goldmine (in the USA). A list of what an artist had released became known as a discography so I became a discographer (a person who researches and writes discographies). I wrote discographies for Record Collector magazine and in the early 90s became employed as the "Record Information Officer" for both Spiral Scratch and Music Collector magazines where I oversaw all the discographies and information for collectors in those magazines. I was an avid computer user and programmer and after many years of working for Apple, Microsoft and then building my own business I started to learn HTML, CSS, PHP and MySQL. Finally, after many years of learning and planning, I designed, created, programmed and built a database driven, dynamic music industry platform - the World Wide Release DataBase (WWRDB). It's like the movie IMDB but for music lovers and collectors. Currently, the platform has eleven sites all catering for a particular niche of music:
The websites include secure user account login, search, upcoming releases, sharing tools, articles, blog posts, email newsletters, and ever growing indicies of artists, labels, people, live music venues, and shops. The site can be used by businesses, artists and record labels themselves for promotion and there is a marketing system for advertising and marketing along with use of affiliate programs to generate income. More features are planned for the future such as trivia, content reviews and ratings, social spaces and an e-commerce platform for buying and selling (rare) vinyl, cassettes, and CDS, etc.
I built this entire eco-system and platform by myself and regularly contribute information, updates and social media postings along with conducting interviews, writing articles/blog posts/newsletters and also perform graphic design, copywriting for artists and labels as part of the marketing system. Some of the web sites are for my own hobby of collecting electronic music, (James Bond) soundtracks, the Mute record label and one dedicated to my wife's favourite hair-metal rock band "Poison".
In the early 90s I was a big fan of the musician Jean-Michel Jarre. With a friend, we self-financed and self-published nine issues of a fanzine called "Destination Jarre". Obtaining an official British ISSN periodical number it was sold on a individual and subscription basis. I used an Apple Macintosh with QuarkXPress to layout the fanzines and worked with a local printer to have them professionally printed via PostScript RIP as A4, saddle stitched publications. I ended up knowing so much about Apple, QuarkXPress, fonts, graphics, PostScript I ended up trouble-shooting and helping the printers with their problems.
I also self-financed and self-published "CyberNoise" which was an industrial/electronic music collector's fanzine/magazine with news, reviews, articles, discographies, release listings and regular special features. Issues 4 and 5 of CyberNoise were sold digitally on 3.5" floppy disks and I converted parts of CyberNoise into HTML and uploaded them on to a new digital realm called the "World Wide Web" - this was in the early 90s!
Having self-published nine issues of the Destination Jarre fanzine with a growing fan-base and subscription sales, we found the desire for information about Jean-Michel Jarre to be huge. As there was no proper, publicly available internet at this point in time (early 90s) we decided to author a biographical book all about the musician. When our research and initial drafts were complete we discovered we had enough information for two books, so we published "The Unofficial Jean-Michel Jarre Biography" and "Exhibit: Jean-Michel Jarre" in 1992 and 1994 respectively. They were both A4 size, 60 pages and were professionally printed on glossy art paper with a card cover. Apple Macintosh computers with QuarkXPress, MacWrite Pro and FileMaker Pro were used.
You can read all about the two books at my Essential Publications online archive.
Using Apple's iBooks Author software application, then with the forced transition to Apple's Pages, I repurposed some of my old, physical, printed CyberNoise fanzines to the multi-media, digital realm, setting up a publishing system with Apple's iTunes Connect on the way and successfully published the "CyberNoise Compendium 1992-1995" eBook via the Apple Books platform.
CyberNoise was an industrial/electronic music collector's fanzine/magazine published in the early 90s with news, reviews, articles, discographies, release listings plus regular special features on Mute Records (The Grey Area) and Jean-Michel Jarre (Destination Jarre).
I was employed as the "Record Information Officer" for both Spiral Scratch and Music Collector magazines in the early 90s where I oversaw all the discographies and information for collectors. I also wrote articles and discographies for Record Collector magazine 1989 to 1992.
You can see scans/images of my music collecting articles at my online personal website.
In the 1980s I was an avid computer user and I also played a lot of computer games. So much, that I wrote game tips that got published in the ZX Spectrum magazine "Crash".
You can see scans/images of some of these published tips at my online personal website.
In 2019 there was a poster design competition for the new James Bond 007 movie "No Time To Die" that was due to premier in April 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the release date of the film back and the competition appears to have been scrapped. As a lifelong James Bond fan here are my submissions.
A colleague was putting together an album compilation in a unique tribute to the legacy of pioneering label Mute Records which was released on 4th November 2013 as a double digital album. I designed cover artwork for each of the albums and these were included with the music download as alternative artwork. Those two designs are shown below.
I helped Microsoft launch their Office 2004 for Macintosh product and as part of this product launch I visited Apple in Ireland to train their "Apple Online Store" sales staff on the product. During the training sessions I used the following screencast videos I created, to visually show some of the exciting new features of Office 2004. Although the videos are quite old, the experience of recording a computer screen and editing video for commercial usage is still important today. Modern video creation can also now utilise handheld mobile devices and accessible software such as iMovie, DaVinci Resolve, Lightworks, Wondershare Filmora and Adobe Premiere Elements through to more professional offerings like 4K/8K cameras, Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premier. Good video editing techniques, audio dubbing and video watermarking are important skills regardless of the level of hardware/software used.
I helped Microsoft launch and demonstrate multiple versions of Microsoft Office for Macintosh travelling all over Europe to Microsoft and Apple offices, expos, shows, press launches, education facilities and MUGs (Mac User Groups). The UK held MacExpos in the early 2000s and I project managed and ran the Microsoft stands at some of these events, showcasing Microsoft Office, Virtual PC, Outlook, Outlook Express and Internet Explorer for Macintosh plus hardware USB mice, trackballs and keyboards. I have experience of managing a team of stand personnel from travel to hotel, the show, exhibits and presentations, including performing presentations myself and direct interaction with customers.
I have worked with computers for 40+ years starting out with the ZX81 and progressing through the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Atari ST and on to Apple Macintosh and Windows. I am an expert in Apple products using my first one in 1992, supporting them while working for Apple and being Level 3 technical support for Microsoft's Macintosh products, working for an Apple Authorised Reseller, and then for the last 20+ years running my own Apple consultancy business plus creating and managing the MacStrategy website.
I have experience of many aspects of Information Technology (IT) including Apple products, Windows, cross-platform integration, networking, the internet, servers, security, trouble-shooting, technical support, repairs/upgrades, asset management and markdown.
In the past I have earned awards and certifications including European Apple Assistance Centre Technical Competence, Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), and Apple European Learn & Earn Gold level.
Starting with my first proper computer, an Apple Macintosh Classic, in 1992 I have experience in using (and in some cases trained people on, presented and supported) macOS, Windows, QuarkXPress, Adobe Creative Suite/Cloud, Adobe Acrobat Pro/Distiller, Microsoft Office, databases e.g., FileMaker Pro, MySQL, iMovie, and virtualisation products (Parallels, VMware, VirtualBox).
I have also used (and in some cases extensively, trained people on, presented and supported) many technologies including servers, websites, HTML, CSS, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Content Management Systems (CMS), graphic design, typography/fonts, print/press/publishing, optical character recognition (OCR), watermarking, (old) file conversion, TCP/IP networking, Wi-Fi, remote management, video conferencing, audio, video, photography, iTunes, media streaming, eBooks, cloud services, web browsers, email, software licensing, asset management, security, and encryption.
Examples of my experience with some of these products and in some of these fields include:
Working for Apple and Microsoft during Steve Jobs return and Apple's resurgence of the late 1990s, I realised it was vitally important to have knowledge of cross-platform integration - how to get Macs to talk to Windows and vice versa. I deliberately learnt as much as I could about Microsoft Office, servers, clients, Server Message Block (SMB), Apple File Protocol (AFP), AppleShareIP, Microsoft Exchange / Outlook, file storage (HFS+, FAT32, NTFS and now exFAT, APFS, etc), RAID systems, TCP/IP, switches, routers, firewalls, Virtual Network Computing (VNC), Virtual Private Networks (VPN), HTTP(S), FTP, email and web browsers.
When I setup my own business in 2001 I became a highly regarded consultant specialising in cross-platform networking and integration and helped, supported and trained many companies on getting Apple Macs to work with Windows PCs/servers. I am still an expert in these areas to this day.