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Simple ways to promote your music on Soundcloud

Soundcloud

With over 175 million monthly listeners, Soundcloud is one of the most important sites that you can use to attract new fans to your music project. But how do you locate the ears of listeners and convince them to follow you? In this post we provide a few tips.

1. Make sure your Soundcloud content sounds great

An obvious point perhaps, but the music you upload to Soundcloud should sound as good as possible. Ok, fair enough, a lot of people use Soundcloud to showcase demos and alternative mixes of tracks with a view to getting feedback on work in progress, but the point is that whatever condition your track is in production values wise, there has to be something great about it – or it’s not going to attract attention, likes or shares. Posting demos is fine – so long as the tunes are good.

2.Make sure your SoundCLOUD content looks great

Many artists think it’s enough to upload a song or two to their Soundcloud profile and leave it at that, but don't neglect the visuals:

  • Use strong 500px x 500px artwork or photographs to accompany tracks
  • Include information about the band and relevant website info in track descriptions.
  • Make sure you use the space provided on your profile page to provide a biog plus links to your social media presences and official website.

3. Use tags

Ensure your content is tagged well. Tag your songs with any genre name that is relevant to your track; include similar artist names too (i.e., if you have a track that sounds like Frank Zappa, tag it as Frank Zappa). This is vital for ensuring that your music gets discovered via search.

4. Embed

If you’re providing audio streams on your website, use Soundcloud to embed your tracks (rather than using any built-in streaming tools or widgets). This immediately lets any site visitors know that you are on Soundcloud, allows them to follow you and provides you with the opportunity to get more plays. Furthermore, if you are sending your music to blogs and music sites, consider asking their owners to embed your tracks directly on their sites (i.e., rather than referring people to your website to listen) as this can greatly increase the number of plays you receive, and the visibility of your Soundcloud content in general.

5. Engage

Don’t just upload your music to Soundcloud and wait for people to discover it: it’s not quite as simple as an ‘if you build it they will come’ scenario. You’ll need to make yourself more visible to Soundcloud users in a more proactive way: by listening to other users’ tracks; commenting; and resharing them. Avoid doing this in a spammy way – if you’re sincere about things, you’ll have a much better shot of other users checking you and your content out (and sharing it with others).

6. Add a Soundcloud icon to your site

It’s quite common for bands to include cute little icons with links to their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages on their websites…only to forget to include one for Soundcloud. Make sure you make your Soundcloud icons as visible as all the others – given that you are a musician and Soundcloud is specifically about music sharing, it’s potentially a more valuable use of your website’s “real estate” than other social media icons.

7. Use groups

Soundcloud groups offer you a way to share music with like-minded creators / listeners. Locate groups that might dig what you do, then post tracks to them (you can also create your own groups). It’s very important that you post to groups in a respectful, non-spammy way, and ask for genuine feedback. If your music is appreciated, it will attract reposts, which will obviously help generate more exposure for and plays of your music.

8. Repost other music

Don’t just focus on promoting your music on Soundcloud – promote other artists’ music too: in effect, become a curator of musical content. If you are regularly posting interesting tracks to a growing audience, you have the potential to be a ‘tastemaker’ of sorts, with an audience that may therefore be more receptive to any of your own original music that you share.

9. Reply to comments

If people comment on your music, reply to them: this can foster a good relationship between you and people who like your music and this conversational approach may ‘convert’ somebody who commented on one of your songs to becoming a follower.

10. Be an active user

Whether you’re posting your own music, reposting somebody else’s or commenting on tracks you like, try to do it regularly. This increases your visibility as a Soundcloud contributer, makes you more noticeable and increases the chances of people listening to your music and following you.

11. Use Spotlight

If you’re on a Pro Plan, use Spotlight to pin up to five of your best tracks to the top of your profile. This ensures that you’re showcasing your best material to Soundcloud users, and potentially increasing the number of followers.

 

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Why bands shouldn’t put all their eggs in Facebook’s basket

 Facebook

by Chris Singleton

An article in today’s Guardian caught my eye: “Ello might or might not replace Facebook, but the giant social network won’t last forever.” To save you the hassle of actually reading the article, Ello is a relatively new social network (an ‘anti-Facebook with a conscience’ apparently – given that it’s funded by venture finance capital, I won’t hold my breath about the conscience bit); it is growing at a rapid rate and might one day replace Facebook as the world’s dominant social network (or not).

I suspect that reports of Facebook’s death are likely to be much exaggerated at this point – however, it is worth thinking, from a band’s point of view, about what would happen if Facebook did pop its clogs; it could have serious ramifications for an act.

Right now, bands often focus on building up a Facebook following at the expense of a lot of other stuff. This is usually because a label wants to see a big one before getting the chequebook out (ooh er). As such bands go to huge lengths – sometimes spending a lot of money on advertising – to ensure that they have a healthy number of fans associated with their Facebook page. It makes sense on paper to do this: you get the ability to communicate with a group of people who might one day fork out for a t-shirt, and an A&R guy gets to think that you’re actually popular.

But what happens if Facebook disappears? It sounds like a crazy thought, but it’s not. We’ve been here before after all - remember getting RSI from clicking ‘add friend’ repeatedly on Myspace, and building up an impressive number of said friends…only for those friends (fairweather at best; saucy ladies punting saucy services at worst) to bugger off to Facebook a year or so later?

If Facebook does get supplanted by a newer, hipper network then you may find yourself in the situation of having spent thousands of pounds developing a following that is no longer there. You may have promoted your Facebook page religiously whilst on tour…only to find that the fans you made on tour can’t be contacted, because the only relationship you had with them was one that took place on a now defunct Facebook. This is not a good place to be in.

So how do you protect yourself? Well, by all means continue to advertise your band on Facebook; but don’t just focus on using advertising spend simply to generate ‘likes’ (this, after all, sort amounts to paying Mark Zuckerberg so that YOU can segment his database). Try to capture email addresses as well, by offering people content in exchange for their email address (at the moment, most bands just offer this content in exchange for a like). Or, if you are dead set on generating likes for your advertising spend, follow this up with some Facebook ad promotions aimed at converting the new ‘likers’ into subscribers to your mailing list (run an ad which offers them a second free track by going to your website and joining a mailing list, for example). At gigs, prioritise capturing email addresses over Facebook likes.

The reason it’s so important to capture email addresses is because 1) you are future-proofing yourself somewhat from the doomsday scenario of your Facebook following disappearing and 2) you gain more ownership over the artist-fan relationship – you are in control, generally speaking, of whether somebody sees a communication about your band or not (i.e., you are not relying on a Facebook algorithm). And email addresses allow you to invite people to follow you on other social networks too – you can generally just import your list and send out invites automatically. It’s much easier to convert an email address into a ‘like’ or a follow than the other way round.

I reckon our Facebook followings are safe for a little while yet; but it is worth thinking about what’s round the corner, and considering other ways to bombard people with information. Speaking of which it would be rude at this point not to invite you to join Prescription’s mailing list (please see below).

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Is social media really that helpful to bands?

 Social media

I came across a very interesting article recently in The Guardian by the novelist Ewan Morrison, about how social media is not a 'magic bullet' that will bring fame and fortune to self-epublished authors, but actually a serious waste of time. His conclusion, after an in-depth study of the subject, is that it's best to avoid spending all your time as a self-publishing author trying to 'engage' a fanbase through posting status updates about cats, and focus on writing great books instead.

The parallels for independent musicians are obvious and, whilst I would not entirely go along with Morrison's pessimism on social media, I do think he makes some very good points about a) not placing too much faith in the power of social media to shift units and b) being very wary of social media gurus who offer all manner of expensive solutions / seminars that promise to take you, via Facebook or Twitter, from being a nobody to a superstar in a matter of weeks. Although a big part of my job here at Prescription is working with bands to improve their digital offering, I would never want artists to think that it's the kind of dream ticket to stardom that is often sold by digital marketing agencies to bands.

Rather, my own view on social media is that it's something that complements promotional activity and, depending on the context, can sometimes be a key part of it - but it's certainly no substitute for having great songs and a reason for people to find your act interesting in the first place. After that, when it comes to online marketing activity I'd be inclined to focus overwhelmingly on building up a great collection of email addresses - both of industry/media contacts and punters. Having this email database will mean: 

  • you can approach industry people about your band - still hugely important
  • you can sell direct to fans
  • you know your messages will, at the very least, get to people's inboxes instead of being hidden by a Facebook algorithm
  • you can import all the email addresses into social networks anyway.

Obviously I wouldn't neglect social media entirely; the point is that it often gets prioritised over more important stuff - like songwriting, or potentially more effective methods of online promotion. 

So do check out Morrison's article. It's a bit of a reality check! You can read it on the Guardian website here

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Using Instagram to promote your band

cat-chris.jpg

Chris Singleton's cat, with a 1972 sort of vibe going on.

As a self-professed digital sort of dude, I'm meant to be ridiculously ahead of the curve on just about every level, but given that musically my head (and haircut) is somewhere back in 1972, it's probably no wonder that occasionally I miss out on the rise of a social media craze every now and then. One such craze is Instagram - I've only recently started using it (hence my paltry following) but I must say I do love it - probably because it makes all my photos look like they were shot in 1972, which, as discussed, is where I feel most comfortable, even though I wasn't born then.

Anyhoo, I'm sure you're all more clued up than me on Instagram, and have been using it for ages to take and share retro pictures of your cat, but in case you haven't heard about it, it's a photo taking/filtering/sharing app for your iOS or Android device and it's great (for a full introduction, I'd suggest reading this Wikihow article). What you clued-up musical kids might not have considered though, is that beyond allowing you to take and share retro pictures of said cat, it also has potential to be a useful tool for promoting your band. This is because people can subscribe to feeds of your images, meaning that fans can follow your band, pictorially speaking, all over the place. In other words: on tour, backstage, at the recording studio, in the toilet, doing lines in the toilet and so on - in realtime. Which is kind of funky, and I'm sure would be right up the street of your die-hard nutjob fan (or fans, if you are very lucky). Alternatively, non-fans may come across cool pictures you've been taking of your cat doing coke in the jacks, and love them so much that they investigate your non-cat-narcotics-related activities (i.e., your music) a bit further.

So, why not steal a march on all the other desperate musicians out there by setting up an Instagram profile dedicated to your band, and creating a photographic diary of your musical life? Here's some quick tips to help you do just that:

  • Download the Instagram app (obviously).
  • Pick a good username that allows fans to find your profile easily.
  • Make sure your account is public, so that the great unwashed can see your pictures (you can do this under the settings option).
  • Only post your best pictures; don't put any old rubbish up there.
  • Don't just share pictures of your band - post other cool images that are likely to get shared / liked by other users.
  • Enable sharing of your pictures on Facebook and Twitter (and any other social networks you may use).
  • Always add captions for your pics and (VERY important this) accompany them with hashtags, so that the image is easily discoverable in Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
  • Follow other users and comment on their pictures (the 'find friends' options will help you do this), so that they think you like their inane, lo-fi, washed-out pictures of stag dos, and feel inclined to follow you back.
  • Embed your Instagram feed on your band's website and add a 'follow' button.

Hope that helps you on your way to musical stardom, and if not, well, grab the nearest cat.

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Using Twitter: top tips for musicians and bands

 Twitter logo

Twitter logo

Although Twitter’s been around for quite a while now (since 2006, if my memory serves me correctly), it’s still not fully understood – or used to maximum effect – by a lot of bands and musicians. But many do seem to have a sense of its importance, and “can you get me a bigger Twitter following?” is one of the most common questions posed by bands to Prescription PR, making us feel as though we are the musical equivalent of plastic surgeons. “For a price,” is a common answer, as we reach for some strange-looking implements. But today, dear reader, we’re giving you some free advice on using the medium – and as you’ll find out, size isn’t everything. Here’s our survival guide…

1. Pick the right username

A very obvious point this, but if your little four-piece is called, say, “The Beatles”, then don’t try to be all clever about things and pick “@YokoOno” as your Twitter handle. Pick a username that is as close as possible to your band’s, because the people who want to follow you on Twitter after seeing you play that gig at the Cavern in Liverpool are as just as likely to whack “www.twitter.com/thebeatles” into an address bar of a browser as they are to search for “The Beatles Twitter” in Google. Or at least that would have been the case had Twitter been around in 1961. It wasn't, which is why the Beatles didn't 'make it' on Twitter. They actually played a few gigs and wrote decent songs - worth doing that too, by the way.

2. You’ve got a biography: use it

Alright, a biography comprising a mere 160 characters is not nearly enough to describe the incredible things you’ve been through as an artist and to impart your views on the price of cabbage – but it is what will come up in Google when somebody searches for your band’s Twitter page (see example below).

So get to the point – put decent, concise content in your bio that enables people to spot your profile easily in search results, and distinguishes you from the American sports hero who happens to share your name.

3. Look professional

Twitter gives you the option to brand your profile nicely – you can upload a dinky profile picture and a background of your choice. Use these tools to make your Twitter profile appear consistent with your band’s general online presence. In short, don’t rely on one of Twitter’s default backgrounds and a blank profile pic – be professional about things. Otherwise you will look like the Twitter novice that you are. Pay particular attention to the profile pic, because this is what pops up in other users’ news feed when you post your latest inanity about a gig down in the Dog and Duck.

4. Follow the right people

Don’t be tempted to use automated ‘adders’ or dodgy sites to grow a Twitter following. The 10,000 followers you get from such services may a) not exactly be real people and b) simply won’t be interested in your latest double album. They will however, be interested in regularly offering you an oil inheritance from Nigeria or shoving a pair of fake breasts in your face (sadly these offers rarely translate into reality, believe me). Instead, try to follow bloggers, journalists, writers and musicians that you respect and that are relevant to you – for example, bloggers that write really interesting stuff about the nu-metal-cum-chillwave-shoegazing scene that your band is trying to break into. A proportion of these hip bloggers and journalists will follow you back, meaning (as we’ll see below) that Twitter will inform other similarly hip bloggers and journalists that you are an interesting person worth following, generating more hip followers for you.

5. Take Twitter’s advice

When you log into Twitter, you’ll see a ‘Who to follow’ panel, with suggestions from Twitter's algorithms regarding people that you might find interesting. These recommendations are based on who you are already following on the network (and who's following you), and assuming you’ve taken my words of wisdom above on board, Twitter will be suggesting interesting, relevant and (shock!) “useful” people to follow. (If not, it’ll be prompting you to follow more oil barons and big-but-pretend-bosomed ladies. Nice and all as they are, these individuals might not be all that much use to your music career). So take a careful look at the suggestions, check out each profile suggested, and if you think the algorithm has sussed you out correctly, start taking Twitter’s advice on who to follow.

6. Follow back – where appropriate

When somebody follows you, take a look at what they do / write about, and if they seem like a "fit" for your band, then by all means follow back. I’d suggest not following everybody back – otherwise it makes it harder for Twitter to make accurate recommendations about who you should be following and who should follow you. As with points 4 and 5 above, the “quality” or relevance of follower / following is everything here.

7. Remember: content is king…

…but not necessarily your content. By all means post links to your band's new videos and MP3s from time to time, but do not get too fond of doing so; otherwise you’ll just look like a jerk. Believe me, when it comes to overcommunicating about my own music projects, I’ve been there, done that and bought the t-shirt…and despite waxing endlessly about the importance of musicians keeping schtum for five minutes, I still see artists (who should know better) bore their friends, family and remaining fan to tears with hourly Facebook updates about their latest creative endeavours. Nobody cares after a while (if they ever did in the first place). Instead, post links to great content from other sources – whack links up on Twitter to scintillating articles which don’t happen to be about your music (and rest assured, there are a lot of them). Or make witty observations about cheese. In short, get a reputation for being an interesting dude, not a self-obsessed bore. If you post a lot of fantastic content on Twitter, guess what? It’ll get retweeted, meaning your lovely face will potentially pop up in thousands of Twitter feeds. Meaning you’ll get more followers, which you can then eventually bore with stuff about your band (which, after all, is why you’re reading this post in the first place).

8. Interact

Although it’s great for broadcasting news to millions of people, starting revolutions in dodgy regimes and so on, Twitter isn’t a one-way medium and by using the ‘reply’ or “@username” options provided you can interact with people and engage your followers (whatever the hell that means; writing the words ‘engage your followers’ is obligatory in any article about Twitter, so I had to include it somewhere). In a nutshell, if you take the time to respond to enquiries from fans or comment on tweets from the hip bloggers you follow, you will build up a rapport with both groups; this can lead to goodwill for you being generated amongst your two key audiences – fans and tastemakers – resulting, hopefully, in more sales and coverage for your band.

9. Ask for retweets – but only when it’s REALLY important

You can ask your followers to “retweet” stuff –  for example, share posts about your latest video, or a big showcase gig. However, don’t prefix absolutely every tweet with “Please RT!” – only do so for posts that are really important. Otherwise you will become the boy who cried “retweet!” and so jaded will your followers be with this carry-on that nobody will ever retweet anything you post. So there.

10. Be regular

Don’t set up a profile on Twitter and then forget all about it. Doing this will a) guarantee that you don’t have much of a following or b) make you look like you don’t give a monkeys about social media or c) don’t know how to use it. None of these inconvenient truths will impress those skinny-jean wearing A&R guys from Shoreditch who are all queuing up to view your Twitter profile right now.

11. Be visible

Remember to promote your Twitter address outside of Twitter. Put it on your album art, your website, your posters, your drumkit, your head – anywhere people can see it. This will help increase your following.

12. Use hashtags to increase the visibility of your tweets

If you're tweeting about something topical - for example, Louise Mensch - use a hash ('#') followed by a relevant tag - i.e., '#louisemensch'. This increases the visibility of your tweet, because people often search for popular hashtags on Twitter to see what the latest news on a subject is, or simply to steal a funny tweet and pass it off as their own. So with the example given, people who are searching for '#louisemensch' (and there are a lot of them) may encounter your witty, and quite possibly rude, tweet about her. This may result in more people, particularly those of a non-Louise-Mensch bent (and there are a lot of them) retweeting your witticism or following you (or both).

13. But size isn’t everything…

Finally, another reminder that like your girlfriend said, SIZE IS NOT EVERYTHING. Having thousands of dodgy followers you never communicate with is less important than having a smaller group of influential followers who hang on and retweet your every regular, interesting 140-character utterance. Think about it: if 200 tastemakers with audiences of 10,000 each are following you, and 50 of them dig you to the extent that they retweet your post about your latest video, you’ve just hit 50 x 10,000 people…that’s your video broadcast to a potential audience of 500,000 (many of whom may retweet it again). And crucially, those 500,000 Twitter users you’ve been exposed to are more likely to take you seriously, because they heard about you from a credible source, not the oil baron with the big boobies.

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The new Facebook Timeline: what it means for bands and musicians, and how to use it properly

 Timeline

In case you haven’t noticed yet, big changes to Facebook pages are around the corner. That Facebook page that you lovingly filled with crap – sorry, interesting content – about your band is shortly going to become a ‘timeline’ rather than a good old-fashioned virtual wall.

That’s nice, I hear you say – and I suppose, yes, it will make your page look a lot prettier and there are a couple of nice new features. However, there is one fairly significant downside for bands: the new format page won’t let you set a default landing tab, which spells the end of that nifty little trick whereby bands (or indeed brands) could set up their page so that users visiting it were automatically presented with ‘locked content’ – i.e., content you get in exchange for liking the page. From 30 March, if a Facebook user visits your page, they see the timeline, period. That said, it’s still possible to use Facebook ads and other links to take users to an app on your page containing locked content; it’s just that the switch does reduce the scope a bit for artists to increase likes by default, and it’s annoying for anyone who paid a developer to build a nice locked content landing tab.

But we are where we are, and regardless of how irritating you find the changes to your Facebook page, it is still for the foreseeable future going to be an important communications tool for you. So, in this post, we thought we’d give you, in our ever-generous way, our top tips for making the most of the new page format.

1. Upload a great cover picture and profile picture

The cover picture is a new banner that goes across the top of your page and it provides you with a good opportunity to make a visual statement about your band. Ok, a pretty basic suggestion this, but important nonetheless: use a really good picture of your act. You should use an image that 1) works well when cropped to 851 x 315 pixels and 2) screams ‘I’m serious about my music’ to any A&Rs, journalists, promoters or indeed any industry bods in tight pants who casually peruse your page. Don’t use a really small pic of your dog that looks rubbish when scaled up. The same sort of advice applies to your profile pic, which is the smaller image that appears in your fans’ news feeds whenever you post some boring information about said dog. A note of caution: Facebook aren’t too keen on letting you use your cover pic as an advertisement, so be careful about whacking big ‘buy now’ text all over that picture of your dog. Or you’ll get a spanking from Mark Zuckerburg. Ooh.

2. Choose your ‘featured apps’ wisely

Just underneath your profile pic you’ll see 4 rectangular ‘app’ boxes – these are effectively the old ‘tabs’ from your facebook page. You can feature up to 12 apps on your page, the rest of which users can access via a little drop-down arrow. It’s important to choose which ones to feature in the top 4, because people don’t hang about long on Facebook pages and you want to make the key stuff very obvious. My advice would be to put your ‘free download’ app fairly prominently at the top, along with any other useful apps that you’ve got – videos and a music player generally being the priorities. I have to say that even after all these years, and with a new timeline to boot, adding apps in Facebook actually remains a really cumbersome process which I don’t have time to go into, so good luck with that (some googling of ‘how do I ad a new Facebook app’ should help…a bit).

On the plus side, apps on Facebook pages are now fairly unmissable – compared to the old tab icons, they are huge. And however difficult it is to add apps, they do come in handy once they're there.

3. Set a ‘founded date’

A 'founded date' marks the start of your musical odyssey and the point from which you can start filling in your band’s back story on Facebook. If you’ve been around for a while, your band may predate the existence of Facebook, so you’ll definitely need to enter a founded date if you want to add information about your musical activities pre-2007. I can’t quite remember how I entered my founded date on my Facebook page, but I think it involved scrolling right down to the bottom of the page and clicking some sort of a pencil icon. As ever with Facebook pages, it’s not madly intuitive.

4. Add milestones

Adding milestones is a good bit more straightforward – just click the ‘milestone’ link which is located at the top left-hand side of the page, underneath your cover photo. Use this option to add significant dates and events in your band’s career, like when you released a record that nobody bought, or did a gig for an audience comprising your mum. On a more serious note, it’s worth taking a bit of time on this, as it does give your band an opportunity to provide something that is of real interest to your fans. Or at least the ones wearing anoraks.

5. Pin and star stuff

You can now give a particular post, link, video etc. greater prominence on your Facebook page by pinning it to the top. Simply hit the little pencil icon beside any post, and hit the ‘pin to top’ link. It will then hang around at the top of your page like a bad smell for a week. This is useful for flagging up particularly important content, like that time you saw Boy George walk into the local corner shop.

Starring stuff is another way to make a post more prominent on your page – if you click the star icon beside a post, it will be expanded to a full-size article.

6. Use messaging

One of the more significant new features of Facebook pages is that fans can message you directly and privately – i.e., not just write embarrassing stuff on your wall. Great if you’ve got a bunch of record companies or hot groupies keen to contact you; not so great if you’ve got a raincoat-wearing brigade wanting to get in touch. On balance though, I’d leave the messaging option switched on; it’s a form of fan engagement and you can always ignore the weirdos if you have to. Of the new features being discussed here, I think the that the messaging option is potentially the most significant, because it allows potentially very helpful people to establish a connection / dialogue with you about your music.

7. Use the ‘build audience’ features

By clicking the ‘build audience’ button at the top of your page, you’ll be presented with various tools that you can use to spread the word about your page (including a handy option to use your mailing list to invite people to follow you). Although these tools are not all strictly speaking new, they are presented in a  simple and comprehensive way and you should definitely take a look at them.

But remember…

Regardless of the above new features,  it’s really important to note that that most of your fans won't actually look at your Facebook page that often (if at all!); rather, they'll see content that you post on it pop up in their news feed. This is why, for all the nice new features, it’s still more important to think about what you actually post on your page than how well the page itself is presented. The better and richer the quality of the content you post, the more you will engage people and define a good online reputation. On that note, I’d actually suggest that you take a look at our recent post on managing your online reputation – it's got a lot of pointers on that score. 

Right, I'm off to put a lot of interesting and perhaps not-entirely-true milestones on my own Facebook page. Like the time I was number 1 in Belgium.

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