So, my new best friend, Bob Lefsetz, had some interesting thoughts in his blog about Management and Pricing in the music biz. I’ve been contemplating some of this for a while, but this — and our interesting “beauty” conversations — got me to really wondering why most musical artists just don’t “get it”.
I’ve been, what I consider, an early adopter of PC and internet technology as it evolved. However, before last year I generally used the web for news, stock tracking and tips and research for my “real job”. It is my belief that there are/were many folks with similiar “usage”. With the advent of high speed DSL, the proliferation of music sharing sites, and blogs for every topic and occasion, the web has evolved as a true entertainment source — particularly where music is concerned.
While we could spend considerable time talking about this topic, I’d like to focus on how an upcoming artist might take an unconventional, albeit successful, tack in making a successful music career. There’s powerful opportunity in the utilization of the internet to gain exposure, sell CDs, creat dialogue and market an artist. The music industry still has a powerful lock on most artists and the inertia of doing things as they’ve always been done have stifled the real use of the internet as a primary promotional strategy.
As Bob extolls, because of the powerful expense savings of using the internet, pricing for music tracks should be decreasing and creating an opportunity for additional purchases. In my mind, I think that a “new” artist (say Feist) could sustantially increase their awareness and “usage” with a solid Internet strategy. Bear with me, but here’s my Internet Marketing plan:
First, ONE, integrated website that includes an Artist blog updated once per week, Tour schedule with links to ticket sales and venues (including seating charts), photos, promotional videos, and PERHAPS a forum — but totally not a “must have”. Keep the site updated and changing each day, or at the least, two or three times per week.
There should be a concentrated effort by an Internet Channel Manager to research ALL fan sites, make contact with those webmasters and create an “advisory board” of sorts, that would provide a method to disseminate information on sales, tours, merchandise, damage control, etc. Create a two-way relationship that allows them to be a part of the process. Provide an artist interview to different fan sites at different times to keep them — and their readers — engaged.
Offer live performances from various concerts, to download for a cost — a la Widespread Panic. Provide a free on-line concert with promotion on various “friendly” blogs and fansites to create awareness. Optimally, use a site like AT&T’s Blue Room or the artist’s proprietary website.
Embrace bloggers — particularly those who are favorable to the artist. Offer preview mp3′s as exclusives. Create a “law of reciprocity” with these bloggers for favorable treatment with new releases, concert reviews, promotion, merchandise sales, etc.
I’m not opposed to a pay fansite for higher level of access, tickets, or content, but I don’t think a true artist needs to go down that road. In reality, if the artist is good — really good — and gets enough exposure, then they should be able to sell tracks and make a healthy living. If they market themselves right and don’t sell their soul to the devil that is big record labels who act as pimps, they can even get rich. Think of it this way — why can’t a talented artist or group develop and implement a successful targeted internet strategy, by-pass the record labels by providing their music via low cost mp3′s that are marketed through samples and live performance snippets, utilize dedicated fans and low-cost providers for graphics and promotion and provide music for a fraction of what the record companies charge? Just because it’s not been done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
Utilizing this kind of “out of the box” approach would be substantially less in expenses and allows the artist to be totally in control of their “message” and approach. Additionally, it allows the artist to be nimble enough to change strategies very quickly if something is or isn’t working.
I personally think that we’re at the precipice of change in the music industry concerning how artists are managed and promoted. Of course, it’s slow to change because there is beaucoup money to be lost by agents, promoters, record executives and such — you know, the ones who are getting 50-60% of the artists’ revenue. It really IS time for somebody to wake up and smell the coffee.
I know we’ve got some Marketing geniuses that read this blog….so, what are your thoughts regarding an effective internet strategy to promote a musical artist or group?
ETA: This is somewhat related but an aside….iTunes released iTunes Plus yesterday making hi-res mp3s available for $1.29. But is there a catch? Bob Lefsetz has two great posts on the subject, but warning: Bob is the Dave White of music blogging. Be sure to check out both posts.