So how hard is it really? You write songs and sell them, that’s all there is to it, right? Unfortunately the music industry isn’t quite as simple as we’d all like it to be. There are many different sectors through which an artist must pass and even more ways in which these sectors can be negotiated and traversed. To successfully navigate the music industry one must learn what happens in each of these sectors and how they inter-relate. To help you get started we have a ‘Map of the Musical Universe’ courtesy of PRS (click to enlarge).
Welcome back to Musician’s Arsenal. This week we’ll be going over analytics. Too few artists actually pay attention to their social media analytics. Some just don’t know analytics for social media exist, some don’t know where to find them and some don’t think it’s important. It’s time to remedy all of this here and now. Crowdbooster recently launched the public version of their site (it had been in private beta for a while), and they join a legion of other social media analytics solutions available to musicians. I choose Crowdbooster to write about due to it’s ease of use and affordability (how’s free?). Crowdbooster provides straight ahead, no nonsense analytics in an easily digestible format.
This essay is neither for nor against subscription music services, and will focus on answering four questions. 1) What is the revenue potential for subscription music services? 2) What are the most likely rates per stream? 3) How much money can an artist expect to make from subscription music? 4) Is a compulsory rate a sustainable business model?
Running a Facebook ad campaign is confusing. You bid for ad placement, but the price you pay bears little relation to your bid. What’s the difference between reach and social reach, connections and clicks, CPC and CPM? More importantly, is there any way to tell how many people played, downloaded, and shared your song, or signed up for your mailing list? (answer: no, there’s not)ReverbNation’s new Promote It tool addresses those shortcomings, and then some. You pick a song, photo, and budget, and it automatically generates dozens of optimized Facebook ads based on past Promote It campaigns, and continually optimizes your campaign based on the performance of those ads. New fans click through to customized landing pages that track not just clicks and likes, but plays, downloads, shares, wall posts, and mailing list signups. As I’m quoted as saying in the press release, “It’s the ultimate ‘set it and forget it’ fan-making machine!” I was invited to try it out and provide feedback during the beta period, and I’m flattered that some of my suggestions made it into the final product. So far I’ve run six campaigns. Let’s walk through the creation and performance of my latest and most successful one.
At the tail end of 2005, I was sitting in my office as Digital Product Manager at Sony (BMG) working on the Take That website. The band had been away for ten years. Take That were making their comeback and this event was marked by many things - a documentary charting their career, a new “Greatest Hits” album called “The Ultimate Collection - Never Forget” and of course their first official website. Until this point in time the “Take That Appreciation Pages,” had occupied the prime real estate of web space as the number one destination for all things Take That. The owners of the “Take That Appreciation Pages,” were doing a better job then we ever could have at managing the fans. Resources at Sony were stretched between many, many artists. The Take That Appreciation Pages,were dedicated to their cause. When it came to Take That as Lulu said in the documentary you weren’t so much a fan as you were a disciple.
Recently I heard a quote attributed to a music business executive that went something like this: “The new model doesn’t exist…” I can’t honestly believe that it was framed that way by someone in the business…Just what exactly would qualify as success or viability in the “new model” by the present day music business establishment?
Last week I went to Nashville to guest lecture at my Cyber PR® Course at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). The class has 18 amazing students in it. 17 of them are certain they want to create careers in the Music Industry. I believe that they can. I told them hat the best way to do this is to follow the path of the entrepreneur and not the path of the CEO. They shared with me their visions for their own futures and I will be posting much more about them here in the coming weeks. This is the 4th installment on entrepreneurial leaders in the music business for Music Industry and Music Business students, so that they can begin to follow their paths and look to them for inspiration. This weeks inspiration comes from a man who inspires me deeply. Why? Because of him and his vision (which was born out of just one frustrating political conversation) there are now 175,000 new registered voters and a network of 8,000 volunteers working to make a difference for the future of our country. Please meet Andy Bernstein who like so many of us started as a fan…
We like to think of the web as one big, endless, interconnected net of relationship fibers where a tug on a single fiber causes random ripples and pulls all across the entire net; that somehow a path will emerge, narrow as it may be, where a ripple can travel from one corner of the net to the other; and that if you - the music marketer - could only simultaneously pull enough social strings, your message would be riding on a magic carpet instead of a string.
However If the ripple effect worked on the social web, then how come artists with hundreds of thousands of followers and many thousands of fans have so much trouble creating sustainable engagement where the ripples are broad enough (to live upon) or at least endless? Songs often don’t find their intended audiences, seats go unfilled, videos don’t go viral, and messages get quickly swallowed in a sea of social noise. It happens every day; it happens to almost every artist on earth; and the exceptions are rarer than you think.
The right mindframe is to “find fans” not to “make fans”. Let me explain.
Music merchandise has always been important to bands, both as a source of revenue and to help raise awareness of your ‘brand’. Fans love buying merch too - the music we like is closely tied in with our identity, and wearing a band’s t-shirt is a way of showing off that identity to others. Now, merch is more important than ever as a way of making money. For many independent artists, the music itself is almost a ‘loss leader’ - given away to promote live shows and merchandise. But what should you sell, and what’s the best way to sell it?
As musicians we’re all constant works-in-progress. Picture a your favorite musical moments from even the most gifted of musicians/artists alike and I guarantee you at some point one of them will admit that during one of those times, they felt they were not performing to the best of their capabilities. It’s an inevitable facet of the human existence, and a necessary hurdle to jump early on in your artistic career. Plain and simple. We cant be “on” everyday. On the flipside, there are things we CAN do to eliminate this truth from ever obstructing our creative improvement ever again.
It’s similar to the adage of “doing the best you can,” and in the unavoidable events where things still go awry, it means cultivating a resilience that comes from being experienced enough that your “mistakes” are good ones- or not noticeably mistakes at all.
I’m continuing the Music Marketing Experts FAQs where my favorite gods and goddesses of online marketing and Social Media promotion share with me the questions they get asked the most by musicians.
What’s most important as a promotional tool; Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube?
I’ve started to notice a trend. Radio doesn’t like the internet. Actually, most of the music industry doesn’t like the internet. The traditional music industry can’t do much about file sharing, loss of their brand, the flattening of recording technology, etc, but they can do something about radio and traditional media. They can use their power in both worlds to ignore nearly every music star the internet has created.
Future of Music Coalition (FMC) has launched a groundbreaking research project called Artist Revenue Streams, where we ask US-based musicians and composers, “How do YOU make Money from Music?” Project Co-Director Kristin Thomson from FMC explains in this MTT post where they idea came from for this research and why it’s so important that every musician or composer in the US takes this online survey, which is available at http://futureofmusic.org/ars until October 28, 2011.
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(Updated January 13, 2016)