Ahh, that’s the rub. How do you avoid the typical 950-CD-in-the-closet syndrome? You know what I’m talking about; you get all excited that you are finished, because you want to share your music with the world. You print up 1000 CD’s and give away 50 or so to your friends and family and the remaining 950 end up in storage somewhere…never to be heard. Bah! This all-to-factual-dynamic is the very problem that Kelly and I are so passionate about solving. We are sick of watching GREAT projects from artists who DESERVE to be heard, no wait, who NEED to be heard, leave our studio and die in the marketplace from lack of exposure and marketing.
That’s the key. You’ve heard the old adage, if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it happen? You see my point?
The bigwig suits at the major labels already (unfortunately) proved to the world that exposure and marketing are more important than the music. I know, I know, calm down!! That’s the way THEY think; but, they were also right. They sold copious amounts of crap for years and consumers bought it because the labels force fed it to them through terrestrial radio and MTV and they were told it was awesome; consumers didn’t have choices. Listen, WE don’t have to think like that. I mean they marketed all the best records the same way they marketed all the crap, right? We are capable of marrying GREAT music with great marketing; just look at “Back in Black”, “Rumors”, “Thriller, “Hotel California”, etc.!! So what’s the lesson??
If you’re a true artist and you write hit songs, or make amazing, inspiring music that will touch the masses and you have 950 units of your last project sitting in your closet, then you are clearly doing something wrong; you aren’t marketing. So either you need to learn the business side or hook up with someone who does; know your strengths and weaknesses and then adjust your business models accordingly. If you only make music (or any art) for your own private pleasure, you need not read the rest of this blog entry. However, if you’re goals are to make a living in the music industry, then you better admit that you MUST have a business side; a sales side. If you’re goal is to become a mega superstar, than you REALLY need to either learn everything you can about marketing and selling your product in today’s marketplace OR partner up with someone who gets it.
First of all, you need to change the way you’re looking at the issue. A little positivity wouldn’t hurt either. Remember, all the greats FORGED NEW FRONTIERS!!! They didn’t have a tried & true roadmap because nobody had ever done it before. This outlook alone requires a certain set of stones to endure. You gotta be willing to go all the way. Remember, 2 guys sat on the banks of the Hudson River in New York City, and said, ”We should build a bridge from here to Brooklyn, it would make life easier”. They did just that and the Brooklyn bridge was so long, for the first time in history, the engineers had to ACCOUNT FOR THE CURVATURE OF THE EARTH to make the ends meet the ground; talk about forging a new frontier.
You can do the same if you want to.
Are you basing your business model on what everyone else has done?
The first error most artists will make is they mistakenly identify the internet as a sales funnel. It’s not; the internet is your tool for exposure. Social media is your tool for exposure; NOT SALES. Think of it like this, back in my day, I would walk into a huge music store like Musicland, Tower Records, or even a local mom & pop record store to buy a CD. I KNEW WHAT I WANTED already!! I went straight to the “A” section and picked up the new AC/DC record. Boom.
How did I know??
I was already exposed to it! I was exposed to the new music in 1 of 3 ways; either a friend turned me on to it, I heard it on the radio, or I saw it on Mtv. I think artists feel like if they make their music available on iTunes, Spotify, Rhapsody, etc. and give a shout out on Facebook and Twitter like “Hey buy my new CD!” that will be sufficient; said artists are subsequently disenfranchised when they sell zero copies. The reality is it’s quite the opposite. While in today’s music market, it’s a blessing that you have instant distribution (meaning your product is available to whoever wants to purchase it, when they want to purchase it), you still need to expose consumers to the music in such a way that you influence their true buying decision.
So there is a couple ways to accomplish this. #1 is to use a method called “branding”. Branding is expensive and the results are “hit or miss” unfortunately. This is radio. Essentially you spend $500,000-$1,000,000 for a shot at heavy rotation. Remember, mathematically there are only a few slots available at any radio station for you to get your shot. If you succeed in a 35-week campaign to get your single into heavy rotation on the P1 stations (major markets/top 40) then the song is on the air so much that people can’t help but be influenced by it; thus creating the urge to purchase…the song. You see, consumers are so savvy these days. They know the labels will pad a record with filler songs around 2 singles. Consequently, now that consumers have OPTIONS, they will opt to buy the download, not the CD.
Solution #2 is to expose people online to the music. This is where YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and the others come into play. My opinion these days is that online sales techniques will bring the sale of a “bundle” of some sort back and eventually phase out single downloads; whether it’s a bundle of songs in the form of a CD or a bundle consisting of music, merch, artist access, etc. I’ll tell you why I believe this. Online music marketing is based on a solid foundation of CREATING RELATIONSHIPS. Think about it, when you hear a single on the radio, your relationship is essentially with the song and maybe the artist if you are able to catch them on a TV awards show or a radio interview; but more about the song, less about the artist. When an online marketing campaign exposes you to new music that you like, they will, by design, follow up with creating a relationship between the artist and the consumer. They will do this with bios, content (like acoustic vocal videos, videos, pictures, tweets, Facebook quips, etc) and more music. Once you have emotionally “bought in” to the artist, whatever marketing effort that requires, you are more likely to purchase something for your own pleasure but ALSO to support an artist that you now believe in and are aware of on several different levels.
For the REAL talented musicians/singer/songwriters, this kind of content can go viral. Look at the raw footage from any Karmin or Noah video on YouTube where they were artistically putting their personal mark on a well known covers song. They were just SO GOOD that one of their videos went mega viral…then all their videos went mega viral…and I’m talking 10s of millions of views…now they are in. Boom. Just like that they are DRIVING TRAFFIC; they are exposed, but they still have to monetize this momentum. For Macklemore and PSY, the songs were just so damn hooky and put to some compelling video footage…and Boom. They are driving traffic. FYI, both Karmin and Noah, who chose the revamping-popular covers-route they put up TONS of content. I think (don’t quote me on this) that Noah put up 1 video a week for 77 weeks before the LMFAO song broke and he ended up with 16 million hits. Can you last that long? I promise this kid was able to hang for 77 weeks because he simply loved what he was doing. Every video was an artistic challenge for him as well as a marketing opportunity.
So how does one MONETIZE the traffic after you get the music exposed?? This is where the sales funnel comes into play. Here is where you have to be smarter than the average bear and be a “student of the game”. Know the differences between radio and social media and their respective roles. Once you landed in heavy rotation on the radio back in the day, you were in because WHERE ELSE COULD CONSUMERS GO? Consumers had no choice but to be influenced by your music if they were listening to the radio constantly; they only had so many CD’s in the car, so the radio was a necessary option in the interest of variety. Thus, it was SO EASY to influence their buying decisions once you got heavy rotation. Now, consumers have choices, they can listen to their local radio stations, or XM/Sirius Satellite Radio, or stream music from Pandora or Spotify or the like, they can Tweet, they can listen to their mp3 collection on their smart phone, they can, they can, they can, they can, etc… So if you expose the music to them once, and the masses respond, you need to get them into a sales funnel.
You are constantly exposed to sales funnels without ever realizing it. Take a grocery store for example. They market the “loss leaders” (as they are called) like 30 cent apples, or killer deals on chicken etc. This gets you into the store, where they know you will do the rest of your shopping. Or how about, your grocery store “frequent flyer” card?? With this card you hold the promise of a DEAL. The sales are scarce, thus creating urgency because the deal will run out soon. You get it? Even the way the store is set up…have you EVER been to a grocery store where the common items like Milk, Butter, Cheese, etc are conveniently placed in the front so you can quickly run in and run out? HELL NO!!! These items are ALWAYS in the back so you have to pass through tons of other items that will likely remind you of other things you need to purchase on your way to get the milk; all by design. How about an infomercial?? Yeah, we all hate them, but why are they still on all the time on so many channels?? BECAUSE THEY ARE EFFECTIVE. Take an hour or two one evening and watch all the different infomercials…they all have the same structure with different widgets. Buy now! Deal is expiring! Get 2 for the price of 1!! Compelling video / social proof, etc. These are great examples of sales funnels.
To get an effective sales funnel for your music, you need to have access to these people somewhere different than FB or Twitter. Both of these amazing tools are fleeting. Your tweet is literally gone in 10 seconds, same at FB. So you need their email addresses to market to them.
So how do you get people to give you their email addresses?
Several ways are effective. A few of our artists are quite good at getting email addresses during their live shows. We set up “squeeze” pages for them and they direct traffic to the squeeze pages with a free exchange of some sort; tit for tat, quid pro quo, etc. Go to my squeeze page and get a free download of my new single. Couple the download with a chance to win a $25 bar tab, or a chance to get in the music video and voila!! You have mass amounts of people giving their email addresses
A guest post by Johnny Dwinell of Daredevil Production