If you work in or around the music industry it’s obvious things are changing drastically. The way people perceive and find their music has completely changed. New technology has turned the music industry on it’s head. How do we keep up? and why hasn’t the industry’s platform of doing things completely flipped as well?
Over the course of the last year I’ve been researching and developing a new platform, at least for my company to operate under. Instead of traipsing around complaining about the demise of the record business (like many of the major label execs spend most of their time doing now) I figured, something’s gotta change and fast! Being the owner of a young company, I’m not going to operate by the old platform’s standards and jump aboard a sinking ship.
More people than ever before are listening to music. It’s great! They have it coming at them from all angles, it’s just fantastic. This should be a very prosperous time for the music industry. Music is everywhere - embedded in their phones, tv, public spaces etc. So much room to make money from music. So where do we start…
Here’s my top 5 game changing philosophies. I think with an outlook shift we will actually be able to sustain ourselves. Well, I hope so at least…
1. Recordings as a Marketing Tool.
The old industry saw recordings as their product, to put in stores and sell. Our new platform sees recordings strictly as a tool to get people to your shows. Give out your music and give out lots of it! Don’t hold back. The more your music gets out there, the more chances the decision makers in the industry will stumble upon it. Once you start selling out shows and making promoters money agents are guaranteed to take notice. People aren’t paying for music anymore, it’s a fact, so why are we trying to sell it to them? You can make more money in the long run off of publishing and live performances if you just pump it out gratis!
2. Connect Directly With Your Consumers.
Cut out the middle man. Think about where your potential fans are. Where do they work? Where do they study? Where do they go out at night? and get your promotional materials to those places. Though saturation is key, advertising and press isn’t going to connect personally with your potential fans. A strong publicity and marketing plan paired with personal outreach via social media and lifestyle initiatives will really drive it home. This leads right in to my next point…
3. Align Your Brand with Credible Music Ambassadors (CMAs).
Back in the day when rock and roll became MASSIVE, it had a lot to do with the fact that everyone put a huge amount of trust in media outlets like MTV and Rolling Stone. They were credible and people would swear by whatever they praised. Most media outlets do not have that affect anymore (except a very few outlets like Pitchfork for example) the way people receive and respect media has changed drastically. So think outside the box. Who are your consumers trusting these days? What brands are they wearing? What beer are they drinking? Throw parties with those companies. Work closely with the local bloggers who are really respected. I’m not saying don’t waste your time with the media outlets people don’t trust (again, saturation is key) but hunt down the ones that are trusted and develop a relationship with them that is unique and mutually beneficial. It’s also important to know, some of these CMAs are not media people or brands, some of them are just regular Joe’s who have 5000 twitter followers and enjoy sharing good music with their friends. Find these tastemakers and make an honest connection with them.
4. Bring it Live.
Your live show is your product now. As an indie band it’s your chance to make some real dollars. Create an experience for the people who pay for tickets to see your show. Be genuine about what you’re doing on-stage and really connect with the audience. Your earth-shattering live set will drive merch sales and leave media singing your praises. The power of a good live show is really unparalleled in this industry, for this I am really thankful and you should be too! If you can’t rock it live, then it’s best you go back to the drawing board and really re-assess things.
5. Take Advantage of Social Media.
As easy as it is to reject all these new social media networks that pop up and consume your time, each one brings more value to your band/company. Lots of older industry types I see read a book about social media and then commit about 1% of their work week to developing their platforms while they are bogged down with other paper work and other business. If you can’t do social media properly, there’s lots of people who can do it for you (for example!). There’s the ever looming question… Does it really make a difference? Hells yes. You’ve just been given a FREE way to filter and connect with your potential fans directly, and you’d rather spend money on buying listening stations in HMV? Get your priorities straight and keep up! Re-allocate your marketing budget to ensure you’re making the most of social media.
You don’t have to give up the dreams of rich and fame as an indie rock musician. In fact you can embrace them more than ever before now knowing that the power is in your hands.
Sari Delmar is the founder and general manager of Toronto-based music marketing, publicity, and promotions company Audio Blood Media. She also is an artist manager representing groundbreaking top Canadian talent The Balconies and Sandman Viper Command.