Archive for the ‘ Marketing ’ Category

Marketers in sheep’s clothing…

Here’s a nice article, not about the music business, specifically, but still very applicable. It’s about the differences between “audience” and  “community”.

They are not the same, at all. One you can buy, one you have to build. An audience can be purchased, and doesn’t require “substance”- community, on the other hand, requires some meat in the bun.

You can not buy a community. Creating a community of people who support your brand and its products takes time. Creating a community occurs when you tap into the passions of an audience and allow them to see your product or brand as part of their daily lives.

The difference between an audience and a community in new media

Better to give it away

Taking the Dead’s way-ahead-of-the-curve business philosophy one step further, I’m now recommending that the best way to get gigs –and fans — is to give as many away as you possibly can, as quickly as you can.

Except for a few breathing the rare air of celebrity (a fleeting thing, anyway), nobody is making money selling CDs in the real on-the-road world. Let’s do the math for a typical band, as if there were such a thing.

Let’s say you’ve got a four-piece band that makes $1000 on a good weekend gig, and you’ve got a new platter. Let’s expect a modest crowd of 100, and let’s sell 10% a CD for $10 (you may get more, but it’s a zero-sum game, the more you charge, the fewer you sell). So you gross $100 on your CDs, get 10 into the world.

You won’t get rich from the sales; it’s nice frosting on the gig-cake, but not much more. So WHAT IF your game plan instead was to give away 500 as step one in your promo plan, with the goal to get gigs. You’re thinking, send to 500 clubs? No, they are barraged with submissions, often, the only way to rise from the mire is from an outside push. This means the booker hears about your CD from a “3rd party”.

“I just got so-an-so’s new platter, wow, you should get ’em on the calendar.” Comments from trusted friends mean more than you can imagine. Now for the ciphering: Maybe you get a gig indirectly from 1% of your promos, that’s 5 jobs, gross $5000 (plus you sell 50 CDs on the gigs)- and you should do better than that.

So forget the business cards and fancy promo packs- just put your best foot forward, start giving away as many CDs as you can.

Make sure every friend you have gets one — you just can’t beat the gift of music, especially if you are trying to make a living at it..

Sivers and Godin, on “Spreading Music”

Seth Godin recently responded to some good (not great, maybe, but pretty good) questions about our topic, the future of music on Derek Sivers’ blog (CDBaby Daddy- note that, does that mean he’s an organization or just more organized than the rest of us org-less schmucks?)- I found this bit particularly interesting:

Get over the idea that your success is equated with selling the right to listen, or selling control over when people listen. Relinquish the opportunity to make money by controlling who can listen and when. That’s gone. It’s over. It would be like a bakery selling the right to sniff the fresh bread or a wine maker selling the right to look at the cool label. It’s now a public good, something you see as you walk by.

What you can sell, what you better be able to sell, is intimacy. It’s interactions in public. Souvenirs. Limited things of value. Experiences. Memories. People will pay for those things, IF: your art is actually great and if you make it possible for them to buy them.

“Like a bakery selling the right to sniff the fresh bread” he says,  but of course smelling is not the same as consuming. You buy the bread, you eat it, it’s gone, period.  Paintings, he notes, are often free to “experience”, and while it may not be as “filling” as owning the art, you can stand next to the owner of a painting and get the same enjoyment. Music is different, as he points out, not like bread, not like a painting.

Salvador Dali once said the difference between one of his original paintings and a good reproduction was the price. Stand back a few feet, you can’t tell the difference.  So what’s the difference between you standing up and spilling your guts out in front of an audience to an audience listening to a “reproduction” of you, say on CD? We all know the CD will probably sound better, but still, there is no comparison, nada, zilch. They are like apples and tennis balls, completely different items.

So what does it mean? You gotta eat, assuming you don’t have a patron, so how do you price your art and make a living? What’s the business model?  Seth says you can sell ‘intimacy’, which is a pretty good (but maybe not great) word to describe what we do in front of a crowd. (Some musicians get by creating ‘amazement’ in their listeners, with technical prowess, we’re not talking about that)

It’s not a lonely art; it may start that way, but eventually it has to go out into the world, with the people, with your friends, for your friends.  Let’s pick, as we say.
Painting: visual art
Bread-making: culinary art (craft??)
Music: performing art

Let efolkMusic Promote Your “Concertcast”

Broadcasting an event over theInternet (webcasting) used to be a HUGE deal.  Getting live video and audio distributed to a larger audience required the ‘caster to have a big “pipe” to serve many streams at once, but now days anyone with a decent high speed connection can get it out to any and all with one of the new services like

A game-changer for traveling AND stationary pickers.

The email came from from Massachusetts folk-rocker Erin McKeown, and announced a series of house concerts, with a twist. She’s webcasting the shows using a new service, The service allows anyone with a webcam and a mic to broadcast live “TV” from wherever to an unlimited number of viewers- and if you have higher production values (lights, good sound, nice video cameras, duh) it looks and sounds fabulous! The best part is that she is selling tickets on her website (through paypal, $10) and sending ticket holders the URL and a password just before the show to give them access.

Her press says she is “inviting you into her living room, onto her porch, into her river, and into her yard” and I’ll be shocked if she doesn’t make some money on this. I’m not trying to sell tickets for her (although I wish her luck and will be curious as to how it turns out), but this is just such a great concept, I had to tell you about it. I suggest you get your email lists up to date, sign up at ustream, and produce a concert.

efolkMusic wants to help artists and producers get the word out when a concertcast of interest to our community is happening, so please write us and we’ll let our 9,000+ newsletter subscribers know:

Marketing Mistakes 101- Chapter 1

The One-hit Wonder

You know ’em, you love ’em, but you don’t remember them: artists who had one hit and went away forever. That’s because marketing, like comedy, when it’s effective, comes in threes. Whether the product is an album, a concert ticket, or a booking, one “impression” does not a sale make.  Sure, once in a while you do get caught by a single event that is so extraordinary that you are moved to action, but that is a rare exception, and we’re trying to get consistent results.

Three impressions in a short amount of time. Why three? How long is a “short amount” of time? To tell the truth, I don’t know why, why, why, it just is, as Van Morrison says (Using 3 whys…). OK, four is better, forty even better, just don’t put all your chips on ONE or TWO. As for the time period for the impressions, the quicker the better, as the “spin” speed is higher. Read more

Going Around the Blockage

This no-brainer of a strategy comes straight out of the Republican playbook, and you’ve got to give them some credit- just use it towards better ends, please. I did music for a documentary on Jesse Helms a few years back, and spent quite a few hours listening to Jesse’s henchmen describe how they put Senator No into office and kept him there for years. The smart guy was Richard Viguerie, a long-time politico/marketing genius, credited with “inventing” direct mail marketing. He holds up his left hand, back to camera, and then describes going “around the blockage of Dan Rather, CBS news, the NY Times, the liberal media”, his right hand moving around the left, like a shark going for the kill- “straight to the voters”  with his direct mail appeals.

That’s what the modern musician can do, if he/she/they can leverage the internet, really use the tools that are available- and there are plenty- to get and keep fans. Who are you trying to reach? Where are they hanging out? At a nearby club? At the country club? In front of their computer??

Answer one question at a time, add your own, and stay tuned!

Pioneered political use of computerized direct mail. That technology was the Internet of its day: it enabled conservatives to get around liberals’ dominance of the mass media; it allowed thousands of conservative candidates, organizations and causes to get their messages to grassroots Americans. – RV

New Music

A song is worth a thousand pictures.

A interpretation of Duke Ellington’s Melencholia, I’m playing the piano at the Rubber Room in Chapel Hill:

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Folk music??  I don’t know.  Download the MP3