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Mobile Marketing for Independent Artists: Reality

 Written by Jem Bahaijoub

Mobile Marketing In The Music Industry – What Does it REALLY Mean For Musicians?

There’s no doubt about it. Mobile marketing is the term “du jour.” Music industry conferences, networking events, the twitterverse and blogosphere are on fire with mobile marketing chit-chat. Bands appsQR codesSMS marketing….it’s a never-ending mobile maze.

This is the first blog post in a three-part series attempting to demystify the issue of mobile marketing. I’ll be exploring the foundations of a solid mobile marketing strategy for musicians and identifying what tools are out there for the DIY music community. But firstly, what does mobile marketing actually mean to your average, trying-to-do it all local musician?

Recently the Washington, D.C. independent experimental pop-duo Bluebrain set a precedent by releasing the first ever location-aware album, The National Mall, via an exclusive iphone app. But is this level of mobile marketing accessible to other local and regional artists?

I set out to delve deeper by talking to a handful of local musician friends in Washington, DC.

What Mobile Platforms Are You Currently Using?

There are a multitude of mobile marketing solutions available. Companies such as Beetag and QR Stuff are offering affordable QR Codes for musicians. Band apps are now available to musicians via companies like Mobile Roadie and MobBase. But are these platforms being utilized on a regular basis by independent musicians? Has mobile gone beyond merely social media updates? Let’s hear it from the horse’s mouth…

“At this point, I use my phone to make social network updates and respond to emails. I realize it can be much deeper, but I have yet to dive into many of the latest apps and new technologies.” Dan Fisk, Singer-Songwriter

“I don’t have a mobile strategy that would necessitate a mobile platform. I do foresee a time in the near future where I will utilize short codes…Also, developing a mobile app for fans to download will probably be the way I distribute my next album. At that point I’ll research 3rd party companies who are providing these services….” Rene Moffatt, Singer-Songwriter

“We’ve used text messaging for years and have also looked into creating a mobile app for our band, which really was not that appealing for independent musicians until recently.” Zach Bella, GroundScore

“I’m currently working on building an “Adrian Krygowski” app.  It should be part of my new campaign for my EP release, “Hope for Us” in spring of 2012.” Adrian Krygowski, Singer-Songwriter

Apart from using a QR code at our shows a handful of times, we’re not really in the mobile marketing game.” Garron Marsh, BraveNoise

How Accessible Do You Think Mobile Marketing Is To The Independent Musician?

Many independent artists are creating simple band apps that make their content available to fans via mobile devices. These types of band apps are available from approx. $500 upwards. But what about the more complex apps and mobile initiatives used by established artists like Arcade Fire, Alice in Chains or Sting? Is accessibility merely an issue of money? It seems that various factors come to play….

“More advanced mobile marketing solutions/platforms are either harder to come by or out of reach financially for the average musician. But I expect music technology companies like ArtistDataTopspin and the like to roll out more mobile tools for the average musician to utilize.” Rene Moffatt, Singer-Songwriter

“I intend to fully embrace mobile marketing but it’s definitely not accessible to your average musician. Mainly because it is still so new and most musicians will wait until it is completely necessary to their career before diving in. Why spend time and money spinning your wheels until you see how best to use it?” Brian Franke, Singer-Songwriter

“Marketing in general is always a sliding scale of how much to spend vs. how much time and effort to spend on your craft, and mobile marketing is just the newest generation of marketing.” Adrian Krygowski, Singer-Songwriter

For us right now, mobile marketing means very little. I think you need tech-savvy band members. Unfortunately we’re not in the position to develop much ourselves. I think if some software, or some kind of very user friendly platform came about, it would be hugely useful, and would find a lot of customers/bands that are in a similar position.” Garron Marsh, BraveNoise

The Take-Away

From observations and conversations with my local music community, my overall impression on the issue of mobile marketing is……

  • The majority of independent musicians still only use their mobile devices for social media and the occasional SMS marketing.
  • The world of personalized and exclusive band apps tends to be accessible only to a handful of artists. These artists tend to be extremely tech-savvy, have the strategic direction of a label/team, or they have the finances to hire a developer.
  • Those independent artists who have experimented with mobile marketing in the past have been inconsistent in their efforts. Their actions have not been framed by a strategic or consistent marketing plan.

So where does this leave us? 2011 has seen an explosion in consumer mobile consumption. For example, according to comScore, more than 14 million Americans have scanned a QR code or bar code with a mobile phone in 2011.

Hubspot also revealed some interesting statistics regarding mobile phone usage this year, a standout fact being that 91% of all U.S. citizens have their mobile device within reach 24/7.

We’re all realizing the importance of mobile marketing. Independent musicians are indeed starting to experiment and explore their options. Will 2012 be the tipping point between experimentation and integration?

Check back next month for my post exploring the key to effective mobile marketing – strategy!

Jem Bahaijoub is the founder of imaginePR, a music marketing company based in Washington DC. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Indie Ambassador Resources is an educational series produced by Indie Ambassador. Through our video panelsindustry profiles and articles, artists and music professionals can educate themselves on general business topics, new technology and current industry trends.

Reader Comments (3)

Very nice post. You have all the points. Social media including mobile interactions through different apps and programs is the cool thing nowadays. Marketing on this forms of media is now a need for almost all kinds of business. Music is one of those which creates a deep impact on people. If a person is more accessible to his favorite music, he'll definitely enjoy using mobile devices. I'm looking forward for the rest of this series of posts. :)

- Kevin Weiis

December 20 | Unregistered CommenterKevin @Flyer Online

Speaking of mobile marketing, what do you think of ringtones and such? I know most musicians will probably despise them and I´m not the exception, but think for a moment you can create a tune that lasts some 30 seconds and be able to use it as a ringtone or even better ringback tone (not as easy, but nowadays there are some companies offering this service). Or just a short clip, since with tablets and smartphones videos are all over the place... After all marketing is about getting your name out there and it doesn´t mean you have to vilify your music in doing that. It´s not like people hearing your song on Myspace or Youtube usually spend much more time evaluating the musical content on the average - sad but true.

December 21 | Unregistered CommenterRJ

We have seen both venues and bands using mobile advertising to put butts in seats and also to engage with audience members to sell CDs. Mobile advertising is unique in that these venues and brands can actually put geo-fences around specific locations to promote an event and then to target mobile users in the vicinity to purchase something related to it. The ability to connect an event or interest is something that is really only available on mobile due to the ability to target consumers based on their actual locations. Looking forward to seeing how bands leverage these technologies to promote themselves.

December 23 | Unregistered CommenterChristina Pappas

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