Tag Archive for: 1989

State of the industry

The state of the industry in the music business seems abysmal to many.

I disagree.


It’s definitely changing which makes it uncomfortable for everyone. It’s more treacherous for bigger companies as it is far more difficult to steer a huge ship to navigate the constantly moving target of the new market.

I feel the outlook is actually amazing and quite bright for all artists, especially indie artists.

Industry Aground Ship


This post is a little different than most and I chose to show this because I have received a ton questions and requests.

Complete transparency, this is somewhat self-serving as I am going to give y’all a glimpse into portions of the marketing proposal we use with our private clients and record labels.

I don’t ever want this blog to come off as “sales-y”, rather, I hope you’ll find this article to be educational.

I hope it will inspire you to begin putting the marketing pieces of your music efforts into place. When you do that, you will begin the journey of making a better living at your music career.

It starts with a breakdown on the state of the industry and then answers some questions on how we address these changes to create cash flow for artists.

Please let me know what your thoughts are on this.


Current State of the Music Industry

Record sales are dramatically down. This is factually accurate, the numbers don’t lie because the numbers can’t talk. The question everybody is asking is, “Why?”

Industry Shania Twain UP


The bestselling country record 10 years ago was Shania Twain’s “Up!” which sold 11 million copies. The bestselling country record of 2014 was Jason Aldean’s “Old Boots, New Dirt” which barely cracked 1 million in sales by 12/31/14.


I’m certain that the unbundling of records by iTunes contributes to this degradation of sales, but only because the market wants it. I’m certain that technology like Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, Slacker, iTunes Radio, etc. also contributes and the market seems to want that as well.



The question is WHY does the market want it?


The biggest reason consumers have stopped purchasing records is because they don’t feel the full CD is worth the price anymore, plain and simple.Industry Is it Worth it Meme







That’s a marketing failure.

Industry Amboo Who License

Photo Credit: Amboo Who


If we can sell bottled tap water, a commodity consumers can obtain free of charge, for twice the price of a gallon of gasoline, we can sell music. We can also sell it for what it used to cost.





Industry Water Collage







Let’s define what it used to cost:

In 1978 I purchased Tom Petty’s “Damn the Torpedoes” for $8.00, which when put into an inflationary calculator, is worth $28.80 in 2015 dollars; it was worth it. As a point of comparison, the new Tom Petty record “Hypnotic Eye” is selling on iTunes for $10.99 which is 38% of the total inflationary adjusted price of “Damn the Torpedoes”. So the cost of a 2015 album has decreased by 62% and, STILL, unit sales are down about 90% from just 10 years ago.


Are consumers simply over listening to and owning music?


Consumers love music. We’ve already proven over decades that we are willing to invest in the music; we need it as it is quite literally the soundtrack of our lives.

So what’s changed?

The platforms for exposing and marketing artists have transformed. The new platforms require a completely different language to effectively communicate to consumers. The music industry, which continues to utilize marketing strategies that have proven to be successful for decades, is now doing it wrong.Industry Doing it Wrong


The game/market has changed, and the industry hasn’t.



Here is some data to support my statement.

Jason Aldean has a multi-million dollar marketing budget for his new release “Old Boots, New Dirt”, MASSIVE radio promotion (every single is in heavy rotation), and he has sold barely 1 million copies.

Taylor Swift has a multi-million dollar marketing budget and her new release “1989” has eclipsed 7 million in sales with ZERO support from country radio where all her prior releases were promoted.


Taylor Swift has a big marketing budget, ZERO country radio promotion, and has sold 7 times that of Jason Aldean because her fans FEEL like they have a relationship with her.

Industry CD Pawel Loj License

Photo: Pawel Loj


Taylor gets it.






On a smaller, more relatable scale, any indie artist who completes a project doesn’t have any problems selling 50 or so CDs, right?  Who is buying these CD’s? The buyers are his/her friends and family. They do this because they have relationships and they wish to support their artist regardless of the quality of the product.



Within the context of even a perceived relationship, $10-$15 is NOT that much money so it doesn’t take a whole lot to make the purchase “worth it”.

Industry 2 Cocktails WIKI free image


That’s 2 cocktails, 2 beers, a dinner, or lunch that you’d gladly buy a friend or someone you really wanted to spend time with.

Consumers are savvy now and they demand more from the artist before their buying decisions can be influenced.




The trick is to target an audience, then build and deepen relationships between the artist and the fan enough to monetize. Monetizing requires the consumer to feel good enough about the relationship with the artist to part with some cash.



Marketing Language Breakdown:

We are all human beings, and as such we require acceptance and belonging.  We are wired up to want to be a part of something; this is not news.

Due to our tribal, lemming-like human nature, there is implied power granted by audiences in mass market presentations. That is to say that we behave like lemmings (I’m generalizing but this is factual or mass marketing and politics would never work) when we consume as a crowd.Industry Military Tribal WIKI Free image


When you see someone on TV, you immediately feel they must be important, and you can share your experience with anyone else who watched what you watched. When you hear something on the radio, the artist must be important and you can share your experience with anyone else who listened.




Even when you attend a concert and the lead singer (Think Axl Rose from Guns & Roses) commands, “EVERYBODY GET YOUR CELL PHONES Industry Axl Rose LIVE WIKI FREE ImageUP IN THE AIR,” most of us will do it because the implied power we give to the performer in a sold-out venue is intense, somewhat unconditional, and we want to do what everyone else is doing; we want to belong.


Now here is how the market changed.



Imagine Axl Rose sitting directly across from you at your kitchen table and delivering the message using the same language and tone, “EVERYBODY GET YOUR CELL PHONES UP IN THE AIR!!!”

How would you feel?Industry Kitchen Collage

Probably like he was over-the-top, crazy, hyper, possibly disrespectful, definitely intrusive, too LOUD, high, etc.


The mass market is splintering and therefore constantly shrinking into niche markets referred to as the “long tail”.


The long tail market is more effectively reached using a content marketing approach via email, text, and social media exchanges all of which are always consumed one-on-one; just like you and Axl at your kitchen table.


Industry Skeptical FREE Pixabay imageThere is no implied power in a one on one interaction, so it’s all about creating relationships.


Nobody is going to impress you with hype at your kitchen table.

If you want to sell 10,000 units, you are going to have to meet 10,000 people and shake 10,000 hands.



You haven’t had very many people sitting at your kitchen table that you didn’t have a relationship with, have you?

Proper care and attention to written messaging, verbal messaging, non-verbal messaging, and paraverbal messaging (AKA how it’s served up) is paramount to persuading somebody enough to get them to perform for you.Industry One On One


A relationship has to be made and deepened or we simply don’t care, especially when we are not influenced by what everyone else is doing (because it’s one-on-one); it’s personal, not tribal…at least initially.


There is a lot of talk about creating a tribe on social media. A social media tribe can be created, however, new members of the tribe have to be inducted one by one.


This is where the industry is screwing up.

This is where Daredevil Production thrives.



Daredevil Production Approach

Daredevil Production monetizes attention.

This process is effective, sustainable, and creates an ever-expanding, very solid, engaging, loyal grassroots fan base. As such, this marketing Industry Increasing FREE Pixabay imagestrategy takes time to create and once created takes time to cultivate.  Daredevil Production provides a long term, steadily increasing, measurable growth program for up and coming artists as well as legacy artists.


Facilitating this program ensures a more maintainable ride to the top, optimizes relationship building and monetization at the top, and provides a more profitable ride back down, actually allowing exponential cash flow to the business once the media “ride” is over (80’s and 90’s vocal superstar Michael Bolton quietly makes 7 figures a year from his mailing list, remember him?)


The measurable data we monitor is social media expansion, social media engagement, contact data accumulation, and revenue per contact.


Once implemented, there are metrics that provide guidance with mathematically predictable ROI’s on capital marketing expenditures ensuring Industry Data Accumulation Memeany marketing effort will return the highest and best value for each dollar spent. Each step is carefully placed in the attempt to reach critical mass with an artist’s brand. Of course, some business exposure costs are more risky than others but there are no “darts in the dark”.


If you can measure it, you can manage it.



Industry Measure FREE Pixabay Image


Assuming the product is well done, attention and exposure will create traffic. We focus on increasing traffic, framing the consumer input experience to accentuate the brand and create excitement, accumulating contact data, and optimizing the revenue from the buyers via creative product bundling packages and residual revenue streams.

The attention can be generated from live shows, television, radio, press, public relations, and social media exposure.




With the mass market continuing to erode and the long tail growing, we see the music industry heading quickly towards Direct-To-Fan marketing scenarios.

This approach is extremely effective when executed correctly, and requires expertise in:

  • Social media marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Squeeze page technologyIndustry Juggler MEME
  • Text capture technology
  • Web store sales/bundling tactics
  • PPC (Pay Per Click) technology
  • CRM Integration
  • Framing initiatives
  • Remarketing technology
  • Exit-pop technology
  • Annotations
  • Effective web store staging
  • PR relationships to craft new campaigns that will likely be unique and foreign to the firm
  • Subscribership based website themes
  • Subscribership based business model structures
  • The language to effectively integrate these technologies in a profitable manner
  • The psychological skill set to evaluate, script, and comfortably incorporate the artist role to maximize sales.

We have effectively implemented these techniques on various levels with multi-platinum artists such as Collin Raye, Jamie O’Neal, Ty Herndon, 7Horse, Andy Griggs, and Tracy Lawrence.

On an indie level, we are working with a 12-year old artist named Bailey James. We began simultaneously building her audience and developing the artistic project on January 2 of this year. The EP was written a few weeks ago, we will record it at the end of June (recording this week!). We expect to release the EP end of July or mid-August depending on the launch strategy.

We have already begun creating the market demand before we release the product.

Here is a list of our marketing accomplishments with Bailey James in the 4-5 months of work thus far:

  • From zero to over 17,000 targeted Twitter followersIndustry_Bailey_YouTube
  • From zero to 20,000 targeted Instagram followers
    • Bailey gets a solid average of 500 likes and 50 comments for each post
  • At least 5 Bailey James “fan pages” have been independently started on Instagram
  • YouTube channel with over 1000 subscribers
  • YouTube channel with 64,000 views
  • Email list of 1,200 subscribers
  • Squeeze page conversion rate of 38% (we expect 25% with an unknown artist)
  • Text capture of 223 phone numbers
  • Added 1,500+ Facebook LIKES

Understand that with the contact capture mechanisms operating on all cylinders, any TV, press, Public Relations, and tour exposure will be Industry Capture FREE WIKI imagecaptured and monetized making promotional budgets exponentially more cost effective. Additionally, each promotional campaign will have measurable ROI.







Sales Structure Example

Here is a quick generic example of how it works.

Let’s use 1,000 contacts (emails and/or phone numbers) as a sample.

Online sales are mathematically predictable with any business. Depending on the brand, framing, and source of the lead, we can predict a 3-8% contact conversion rate to sales. Let’s use a 5% conversion rate to keep the numbers easy and conservative.

  • 1,000 contacts x 5% = 50 buyers
  • 50 buyers at $10/CD = $500 in revenue
  • $500 in revenue divided into 1,000 contacts = each contact is worth .50 cents
  • 30% of the buyers are willing to be upsold if there is a bigger package available for purchase (this statistic is scarily accurate)
  • 50 buyers x 30% = 15
  • 15 buyers purchase a bundle which adds an additional $40 per sale
  • 15 x $40 = $600 of additional revenue
  • $500 + $600 = $1,100 total revenue
  • $1,100 total revenue divided by 1,000 contacts = each contact is now worth $1.10
  • Statistically we know 55% of the buyers will be willing to explore a subscribership based business relationship paying $2.97/month and receiving X, Y, and Z from the artist (10% off future releases, getting releases 2 weeks before the market, 1 free song per month,tchotchkes, meet & greet discounts, Special subscriber content, etc.)
  • 50 buyers x 55% = 26 subscribers
  • 26 x $2.97 = $77.22/ month x 12 months = $926.64/year (round down to $900)
  • $500 + $600 (upsells) + $900 (Subscriptions) = $2,000/year gross revenue
  • $2,000/year gross revenue divided into 1,000 contacts = $2 per contact.

If we want to make $40,000 we will need 20,000 email addresses

If the squeeze page converts at 25% (conservative) we will need 80,000 hits per year.

80,000 divided by 365 days is just 219 hits per day. That number decreases if a text capture implementation is successful in the market.

Furthermore, if you’re considering a solid PR firm for $1,500/month and after the first month you obtain 750 contacts, you’re breaking even on your brand expansion. Even if you’re not breaking even you can measure the growth and you are offsetting the PR costs with real cash flow.

Get it?Industry Juice Worth The Squeeze

That’s doable.

That’s scalable.

That’s real.

This kind of data provides guidance on future promotional expenditures.




In today’s record business, major labels are not developing talent, rather they have moved to and acquisition based business model. In plain English, they are buying small businesses, not developing raw talent.

It is now up to the artist to demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that their music has value in the market place and a viable audience.  The truly iconic, game-changing artists like Mötley Crüe, Metallica, Neil Diamond, Zach Brown Band, Ani DeFranco, Kiss, Florida Georgia Line, etc. didn’t get lucky, they proved their worth in advance of the big deal.

Industry Make Your Mark Raphael Labbe

Photo: Raphael Labbe

Today’s music market is no different in that you have to prove your value. However, it IS DIFFERENT in that it is easier and less expensive than ever before for an independent artist to make their mark.












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Music Starving Millions

Consumers really want to buy music.

I keep hearing everyone complain from the bottom and from the top that record sales are down; consumers aren’t buying.Consumers Buy Feature Image

This is true.


Why aren’t people buying music like they used to if they really want to buy music?


Music is such an important part of so many of our lives. Is it that we just don’t care these days?

Are we in danger of having a society where music just isn’t present in the fabric of our lives?

Music is Important


No, it’s not that we don’t like music anymore as a society.

Consumers aren’t buying music because we aren’t reaching them.




The methods and dynamics to connecting with consumers has changed, therefore the marketing needs to change to influence their buyingMusic When You Are Happy decisions.

For the most part it hasn’t. We keep holding on to what used to work and by “we” I mean all of us; indie artists and major labels.

Either consumers aren’t aware of the product or they are aware of the product and don’t think it’s worth the price.

The previous statement was the very definition of ineffective marketing.


Yikes! They don’t think it’s worth it??


Access to the “mass market” is becoming more difficult and complex. The result is the mass market is nowhere near as “massive” as it used to be. This is because the mass market is continually fragmenting into smaller and smaller pieces.

Music Mass Market Niche Market

As a big market disintegrates into smaller, more focused markets the definition changes from “mass market” to “niche market”.


As a marketer (of your music) you have to consider the fact that the mass market simply isn’t as easy to reach as it used to be because consumers have so many choices to hang out.


In any given media market, there used to be only 3 TV networks (CBS, NBC, and ABC), 1 or possibly 2 (genre specific) radio stations, 1 or 2 newspapers, and maybe MTV for consumers to receive input about any product, project, or artist.

Think about how easy that was for the record labels to reach us when we were such a captive audience.


Now we have well over 500 channels on TV in addition to the initial 3 networks.file00041345220


There are endless possibilities for consumers to devour radio including their 1 or 2 local terrestrial radio stations, HD Radio, Satellite Radio, I Heart Radio (1,000 stations), Pandora, Spotify, Deezer, Slacker, personal playlists, etc.


Every magazine, YouTube, social media, and countless music sites are accessible online at anytime, anywhere in the world from a smartphone.


There is a fundamental, paradigm shift happening right now in the music industry.


Simply put, the methods that were once effective in exposing consumers to new music and influencing their buying decisions has gone through a drastic change.


Music Paradigm Shift


These formerly effective methods were geared towards communicating to and converting a mass market.


The WHOLE industry will have to change with it and adapt. Until then, it will continue to suffer.



Consider this, as indie artists and human beings for that matter, our understanding of our everyday reality is directly related to the input we receive.


Think about that concept outside the realm of marketing music for a second.Music Input Brain Chart

  • Poor children aren’t aware that they are poor until they are exposed to how the other half lives.
  • Children of famous parents aren’t aware that their parents are famous until they are exposed to other children whose parents aren’t famous.
  • Mentally and physically abused people are sometimes not aware (or forget over time) that there are more peaceful ways to live because they get only one kind of input.
  • People that are constantly told they are bad, horrible, not important, etc., will ultimately begin to believe that if it is the only stimulus they are exposed to.

We are all products of the input we receive in life and, of course, input from the market place is equally applicable.


The input we receive becomes our reality.


Music Time To Adapt


My point is when you think about marketing your music you naturally think about how music (in the form of your favorite artists) has been marketed to you in the past.


It’s the only input you have ever received with regards to music marketing, and it worked.




It’s not working now.Music it's not working

Not for you.


Not for the major labels either.


Shania Twain’s “Up!” was certified 11 million units sold in September 23rd, 2004.Music Shania Twain Up



10 years later, Jason Aldean’s “Old Boots, New Dirt” was the best-selling country record of 2014 and it barely cracked 1 million in sales by December of last year.


Music Jason Aldean Old Boots



Clearly the record labels haven’t got it figured out yet, man.


So why follow them?


Consumers haven’t stopped wanting or liking music. The way in which they receive their input about music has drastically changed due to technology and a fragmented marketplace.


Music Who Else Should We Target


So, in a way, they’re starving for good music, they just can’t find it in the new marketplace. They can’t find it because we aren’t getting it to them in a language/manner they find acceptable.

The artists and labels that have figured this out are thriving.

Listen, consumers are just as desperate to be turned on to really good music as you are to sell it to them.  Crazy, huh?


The new way for receiving this marketing stimulus via social media and content marketing through email and text exchanges is consumed Music Chicken Paradigm ShiftCOMPLETELY differently than the mass media branding methods that were effective before.


Systems and strategies for addressing mass media don’t work for private, one on one interactions which is how social media, text messaging, and emails are consumed.



Once the fundamental changes to language and the approach have been internalized, understood, and executed masterfully music sales will rise.



Taylor Swift provides us with proof of concept on this statement.

Music Taylor Swift 1989


While Jason Aldean is an undeniable superstar at the top of his game with TONS of country radio support for his new record, he barely broke 1 million copies.


Taylor Swift released “1989” in 2014 and it was certified 4 million in sales January 22 of this year and she did it WITHOUT any help from country radio.

She knows how to communicate with her audience effectively in the new marketplace and she has the sales to prove it.

Not only is Taylor’s audience aware that her new record was released, they all felt it was worth it.


Right now I want you to quit lamenting the fact that you aren’t as popular as Taylor Swift and concentrate on the concept here.  COUNTRY RADIO ABANDONED this artist and still, she QUADRUPLED the sales of the #1 selling record that country radio unwaveringly supported!


How did that happen?!?!?!  Your future as an artist lies in the answer to this question, people.Music is Live image


You hear Jason Aldean’s singles every day, multiple times a day on the radio, every single he’s released is in heavy rotation.


You never hear Taylor Swift anymore on country radio (except for very recently but only on the limited number of NASH ICON stations which is a joint venture between Cumulus radio stations and Scott Borchetta’s NASH ICON label who is Taylor’s record label head…so that was just a matter of time).

In plain English, record sales are down because labels are not marketing properly. Period.


Music Marketing Sucks

Your marketing sucks too.


That is if you even think about marketing.




People want music, people need music, and people continue to consume music.

Just not your music.


It’s about the marketing.


Artists need innovative marketing strategies.


Want some staggering proof that it’s all about marketing?

I’ll give you 2 examples.

This is the absolute dumbest most insanely unnecessary product ever produced.

I believe the infomercials for this product still run today.

That is because of only one reason, it sells.

It sells for only one reason, marketing.

Nobody NEEDS the Pasta Pro but the buyers all feel it is worth it because it’s marketed correctly.



Here is another example that is simply mind blowing.Music Bottled Water

Bottled water.

Everyday people purchase a 1 liter bottle of water for $1.99.

On average. There are 3.7 liters in a gallon.

That equates roughly to $7.40/gallon for a product we can get for free.

We happily pay more for water, something we can obtain at no cost, than we do for gasoline.


Music Worth It


This is because of marketing.


We feel like it’s worth it.





Bottom line to all artists and major labels, if you aren’t selling your music, it’s because people aren’t aware of it and the ones that are don’t feel it’s worth it.

What has to happen for consumers to think your music is worth it?

If we can sell free water for more than twice the price of a gallon of gas, we damn sure can sell music.






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