By Johnny Dwinell
Step one is EXPOSURE
Major labels use radio (or used to use radio for pop and rock music) to EXPOSE you to the good stuff…um….er…ok…the “stuff” (some of it’s good, most of it is bad); once you hear it enough (“enough” is defined as the magic marketing number for a hit song, like 7 times I believe?) then you are influenced to purchase the music; the song is stuck in your head. This makes sense why getting heavy rotation on radio stations is so important, right? Bottom line is that radio spins, especially in heavy rotation are used to influence your buying decision; whether you like it or not. Ever have a song you HATE stuck in your head because you heard it on the radio?? This is the exact agenda for any exposure to a single. As simple as it sounds, the more people are exposed to a song, the more people are going to like it. I would be willing to bet that almost none of you fellow artists have really put any thought into EXACTLY how you are going to expose your product once you are done recording the record.
I have a plan. I’m not the first by far to think of it. But lately, I think I’m definitely one of the few that are taking ACTION to utilize these amazing online/social media weapons; literally. The major labels don’t know what the hell they are doing in this arena; it’s called a “paradigm shift”. Paradigm Shift is defined HERE.
It’s happened time and time again throughout history in EVERY industry. I’ve got good news for you Indies out there; the real big corporations in ANY paradigm shift (i.e., the major labels and such in the music industry) are far too entrenched in making profits and saving their dying business model to pay any real necessary attention to the new paradigm. It’s a sure bet! I mean think about it, if you were the CEO of the biggest buggy whip company on Earth when the Ford Model T came out, what are your choices? You have kids in college, a lifestyle, an MO that is tried and true, a track record and reputation to protect; you don’t have time to utterly change everything you know to prepare for the future. This holds true for the big record labels and their respective management; these companies are publicly traded and have to answer to their investors. BTW, it’s illegal NOT to make a profit when you publicly traded, so you just can’t go around willy-nilly, abandoning your old, reliable, business model to prepare for the future. You’re investors who bet on your current business model won’t have it. So, you manage the sinking ship as best you can until you are fired. You stay on the ride until the wheels fall off. Hey, who can blame them?? They OWN terrestrial radio; they own them so much that Terrestrial Radio forces crap on the air, and everyone knows crap when they hear it (just ask a real radio promo person who’s worked for any label), so they can maintain the money relationship. After all, who’s paying for the ad space required for the survival of the terrestrial radio stations with dying (or significantly shrinking) listening audience? When you still wield that heavy sword, you just don’t need to be responsible for the change when it’s still far more profitable and far more comfortable to manage the decline.
Are you starting to pick up what I am putting down?
They are all going down with the ship. Want proof? Want real social proof? What was the reaction of EVERY major record label to iTunes when it first came out? Talk about denial!! But, it’s really not denial as much as it is pragmatism; they truly have no other choice. This is the utter definition of the adage, “When there is blood in the streets, there is money to be made”.
I have seen a paradigm shift like this before with the distribution business model in the electronics industry after Michael Dell decided to sell directly to the customer. Think about it, did you ever buy a brand new Dell computer from anyone other than Dell? You have seen this with “outlet malls”. If you’re Levi’s or Coach, why sell only to distribution for HALF the revenue knowing the distributors have no real allegiance to your product, when you can set up a storefront yourself and get 100% of the pie selling ONLY your brand name? Once Dell started this new paradigm, most electronics distributors would be out of business within the next decade. The biggies sank like a stone and still made more money than the Indies in that time period; but the Indies survived, man. The biggies died; remember Comp USA?
This is what goes on today in the music industry. Most of y’all are still “dreaming” of getting your song on the radio; still focusing on a business model that is not only dead or rapidly dying, but in its heyday was a 90% LOSING proposition!
Don’t get me wrong, as I mentioned before the biggies still make the most money, so if I could get my song on the radio TODAY, I would definitely do it. Truth is, at Daredevil Production, we are considering some business initiatives that are geared towards songwriters and radio play, but it is nowhere near our main business plan because it’s not the future and it’s a long shot. Unfortunately, back in the day (or fortunately today) even after you got your coveted “record deal” you still only had a 10% chance of making money; and this WAS the only way to be a recording artist. However, right now, more independent musicians are MAKING A LIVING playing music than ever before. Check out this article that just came out in Digital Music News HERE; in fact, I would go out on a limb and say that if you REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want it, you can absolutely make a living in music today. We personally know more than a few indie artists that you have probably never heard of who tour 200-250 dates per year, have homes, car payments, families, etc…all financed through independent touring, recording, merchandising, etc. In short, I see it happen all the time.
So if we agree that your music is stellar, or at least can find an audience, then the biggest missing piece of the puzzle is
The same principles the major labels used with radio exposure will go for online marketing only the game is significantly different. The game is different in that there is no limit to the pipeline whatsoever, like there was in terrestrial radio. There is a lack of filters and a definite lack of any supremely popular or even ubiquitous delivery method to bank on; it’s truly the wild, wild, west. The principles are the same in that on radio you had to create a buzz by exposing your music to everyone that would spin it; you needed to make some serious NOISE!! With online marketing we still need to make a bunch of noise first to get people EXPOSED to the music and ultimately LIKE it; so we use social media and press; mostly social media. The game is different in that you need to begin to create and foster real relationships with your fans on these social media sights. They are out there and they are starving for GOOD music and they want access; access to you, the artist.
The rock stars of the social media music world can be found on crowd funding sites like Kickstarter.com
Check out Amanda Palmer HERE. Her relationship building skills are so kick-ass she got 25,000 people to back her record project and tour. She asked for $100,000 and they gave her $1.2 Million.
Check out the most funded music projects at Kickstart.com HERE
There’s your social proof that it can be done. Now how did they do it?
Here’s what’s great about social media; it’s totally surgical. You can literally find immense amounts of like-minded buyers in perfect little clubs all over the internet. If you feel your music speaks mostly to pale-Asian-boys-under-the-age-of-15-with-medium-acne then you can seriously find these little “honeycomb hideouts”. You can find Twitter followers, Facebook Clubs, Specialty Websites, etc. specifically created to support unique groups with just such a criteria.
See my point??
What an opportunity to get your music exposed to the very people YOU KNOW will have the highest chance of loving it! They are already demographically defined for you and ready to listen!
Here’s a real life example: Daredevil Production has started a Twitter campaign for our artist Craig Gerdes’ debut single “Haggard Fan”; you can check it out for free at Haggardfan.com. If you listen to the song you will first see that is quite clever and a GOOD song; maybe even a hit song. If this song finds the financial backing it needs to get on the radio (at LEAST $500,000) I believe it would literally be a marketing sensation, almost in a “novelty song” kind of way in the sense that once it got on Country Music Radio it would be blasphemy NOT to play it. The lyrics skillfully weave a bunch of Merle Haggard hit song titles into a story line about a blind date; a definite homage to Hag. If I dare say, the best homage to Hag I have heard.
So, we have “Haggard Fan” which is a GREAT song; this is mission critical if you have any dreams of success with the exposure step.
If you’re song is average, your screwed.
“Haggard Fan” is recorded AMAZINGLY (if I don’t say so myself, LOL) which is also mission critical these days.
Once you have a GREAT RECORDING of a KILLER, UNDENIABLE song, we need to expose it to people who will really enjoy it. So if you were marketing “Haggard Fan” through Twitter, where would you go? THINK ABOUT IT…that’s right…Merle Haggard’s Twitter followers. Of COURSE they are going to be the group of people who are most likely to love it! There are over 74,000 of them (when I wrote this blog).
So far we have over 1,300 followers for Craig Gerdes. These are 1,300 people who followed back after we followed them. As a “thank you” for following we offered a free download of “Haggard Fan” to expose these people to the song. A decent percentage of them convert and download the song for free. They tweet about the song (see for yourself @craiggerdes and @craiggerdes2), we are creating relationships. These people cannot wait to see Craig play live, to hear his next song, to buy his CD which we haven’t even recorded yet; some of them have even invited Craig to stay with them when he comes through on tour!
SIDENOTE: Listen, even if you are marketing online, you are competing with the music on the radio. You are competing with artists whom you should consider your peers. SO COMPETE! Quit freakin’ recording cheap-ass demos and getting frustrated because you can’t make any money. I mean, would you really expect to win a NASCAR race in a rusted out baby-blue 1967 Dodge Dart, just because you can drive as well as the other NASCAR drivers? I mean think about the business and your current thought process, “well, I know I have the talent, but I can save some money with this rusted out beauty right here, so we’ll just see how it goes”. Can you imagine? There’s no way you’re going to win. Similarly, there is absolutely no excuse for a track that doesn’t sound radio ready. I mean, it used to take $250,000 to make a record back in the day, so YOU HAD to get the money from somewhere else; it was hard to get in the door and when you did, you had a 90% of failing. Nowadays, you can get a decent record cut for a little more than 10% of that cost. And you don’t need to record a whole record either. So if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing RIGHT. So quit screwing around already.
We had another artist that came to us who GETS it. She’s a Canadian artist; her name is Tanya Marie Harris. I remember her telling me on the phone she wanted greatness. I remember her saying, “For what you and Kelly are charging for 2 songs, I can record a whole CD up here in Toronto…of mediocrity.” So we went to work to create something amazing; and that we did.
Check out her first single for free HERE
Check out her first Press Release HERE
There are TONS of producers who can do what we do. My intention is not to promote us but to promote the idea that you need to be great, so find your creative team to record the greatness, and then be smart about EXPOSURE.
So the only thing standing in the way of your success is you.
Share this post if you like it
[ois skin=”Bottom Post”]