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Music Change Comedy Tragedy masks

We can all agree the market has changed in the music industry. If the market has changed then so must the marketing methodologies. Alas, the industry hasn’t changed and the record sales are a direct reflection of this lack of adaptability.

Music Head in the Sand image License Peter

Photo: Peter
License: http://bit.ly/1jxQJMa




This is part one of a two-part article that dissects exactly how the market has changed and how consumer behaviors have changed.




Leon C. Megginson was paraphrasing a concept out of Charles Darwin’s book Origin of Species when he said, “It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”


Music Time For Change Chalkboard image


This also applies to artists like you.




It’s not the strongest, the most intelligent, the richest, the most talented, the most well-known, the most creative, the most original, the best songwriters, or best musicians that will survive; it’s the most adaptable to the changing environment.



Let that sink in for a second.


Do we have a changing environment or what?


This means that if you focus on marketing as an artist, REALLY focus on marketing, your audience will be there when you’re art is ready. It also means you’ll be ONE OF THE ONLY PEOPLE with a grip on connecting to and creating relationships with audiences in the new music industry. This, in turn, means that your audience will be the most loyal as well.Music RIP Mass Mktg 2 Collage


That’s a pretty big advantage.


Marketing in and to the mass media is essentially a dead exercise; just like 1,000 previous dead religions and dead languages, it’s hardly pragmatic these days. It’s not really useful. Mass media/mass marketing will become the highbrow discussions of intellectuals 30 years from now, 50 years from now, even 200 years from now.


This is because you need reach a “mass” of people to make “mass marketing” work. The crowd plays a significant role when influencing the masses.


The masses are eroding in the market place.


Music Network Collage

In 1979 there were 3 major TV networks and 228 million people watching television. If your show sucked and was in 3rd place, you probably still had 30 million people watching it. That’s still massive exposure.



Competition back then was about being number one, the most popular programs brought in the largest advertising dollars, but there was an Music Super Bowl 50embarrassment of riches to be had.  (Think about the Super Bowl today. We are blown away by the cost of a 30 second ad, the network can charge these astronomical prices, and companies happily pay because there are so many people watching. I submit to you that the Super Bowl is one of the last big mass marketing audiences)





Music Smaller Audience CollageNowadays, there are hundreds of channels and the biggest hit TV shows are lucky to have 3-5 million people watching them. Mathematically, with 330 million people in the USA, that is roughly 1% of the population watching a huge hit show vs. 7.6% for crappy 3rd place in 1979.


Competition has now become about survival.


If you lost in 1979 you were humiliated but you were still fat, you still ate. If you lose now you’re dead, you’re starving.


This dynamic has happened because consumers have choices. When consumers have choices they exercise them.


This development is also happening in terrestrial radio. Think about the SHEER POWER terrestrial radio used to have in exposing the masses to a new artist.

Here’s a real world example:

When you get in your car and turn on the radio what do you want to hear?

You want to hear “your jam”.

You want to hear something you KNOW, something your familiar with.

In Milwaukee, WI there were 2 rock stations when I was growing up. I would go to my favorite rock station and (assuming there wasn’t a commercial on) 1 of 3 things would happen:Music Yes No No Collage

  1. They would be playing my jam (So I would stay on that station)
  2. They would be playing something I was familiar with and hated (which resulted in me changing the station)
  3. They would be playing something I was unfamiliar with (which resulted in me changing the station.)


There was a 66% chance that I would move down the dial to my second favorite rock station.


Music New Music Handcuff Image


Once again, the aforementioned subroutine was engaged and there was a 66% chance I would go back to my first and very favorite station, cross my fingers that they would play my jam next, and LISTEN to whatever they were broadcasting at that very moment.

I was exposed to many new artists that way. Some of them I loved, some of them not-so-much but I had to listen.



Here’s the rub:

Now, with automobiles having 4G LTE Wifi capabilities, equipped with Apple Carplay or Android Auto technology, my “next station” choices as a consumer are infinite.Music Apple CarPlay COLLAGE


I can keep changing to other stations, Pandora, Spotify, Deezer, Slacker, IHeartRadio, HD Radio, Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, etc. until I find my jam.


Think about that.


Music Consumer Choice MEME



That means I’m going to keep looking until I find something familiar to me.

That means Radio has now lost the power to expose the masses to new artists because consumers have choices.




Consumers like choices and consumers like familiarity (it’s kind of a dichotomy, don’t you think? We all used to “suffer” through the bad songs and unfamiliar songs to get to our favorite familiar songs. The “suffering” was the exposure-to-new-music process).


The translation I’m hoping that y’all are getting is that artists are not “breaking” on the radio anymore.


I submit to you that rock radio and pop radio have not “broken” any new artists in the last 5-7 years.


All the new artists “broke” somewhere else like TV, YouTube, Soundtrack, etc. THEN rock and pop radio started spinning them because they had to. The artists were now popular and in demand.


Country radio is still breaking new artists but those days are numbered, man.

Yes there are exceptions to the rule.

No, it is not smart to pin your hopes, dreams, blood, sweat, and tears on a business model that requires you to be an exception to the rule; don’t be an idiot.Music NO Powerball Lottery MEME


So how will you be exposed?


What is going to be the most effective methodology for artists to actually connect with future fans?


How will consumers become aware of your existence?


How will YOUR song become MY jam?

Music Emoticon Question Image


The music industry keeps trying to invent new ways for consumers and artists to connect and do business.

Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, Bkstg, Reverbnation, Bandzoogle, etc., created new ways for consumers to do business with the artists they are aware of, but these platforms essentially do nothing to expose new music and artists to these consumers. None of these platforms would have ANY TRAFFIC if there were no multi-million dollar brand names on them.

What I’m focusing on, and what you should be focusing on are the reasons why consumers will like you.

If consumers are aware of you and they like you, THEY WILL FIND YOU wherever you are. So the platform really isn’t that important, rather it’s secondary.



Think about how easy it is to find something or someone who wants to be found these days!!


I seriously just screwed up a keystroke writing this article by unknowingly using “Ctrl” + “T” which changed the indent of the next line. Ugh. In 30 seconds I googled what happened and discovered the antidote.

Music Buzz Is Better MEME

Piece of cake.


Traffic is what’s important. Buzz is better!




Tune (part 2 next week!)


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Radio Feature Image

I just read THIS ARTICLE about how next year, in 2016, 51% of GM automobiles sold in the USA and Canada will have 4G LTE capability and will offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.  Good bye terrestrial radio.Radio GM Logo

If you’re younger, you may not get the significance of this infrastructure to the music industry and marketing.


If you want to be a student of the game.


Radio Apple CarplayYou better read this.



Radio Android Auto







You better read this because you think you know how to market you music. If you have a brain you have spent time dissecting the methodologies in which you were made aware of your favorite artists.


Then, naturally, you’ll want to duplicate that strategy to pave the way for your own success.

Radio 1951 Radio image


You’ve already failed.


Be smart enough to avoid stepping in the hot gum on the street.


Radio Hot Gum



A TON of music is consumed in the car.



Back in the day, terrestrial radio (your local radio station(s) that broadcast in your listening area) was the MOST powerful promotional tool because it was the only way to hear the music from your favorite artists and be exposed to new ones.


Think about this dynamic very carefully. I grew up in Southeastern Wisconsin. I was definitely a hair band metal guy. There were 2 rock radio stations in Milwaukee I could pick up in my small hometown.

Radio Vintage Prison Arrows

My listener experience was this: turn on the radio to my favorite rock station. If they were playing a crappy song or a song I was unacquainted with, I’d change the dial to the 2nd rock station. If they were playing something I didn’t like OR WAS UNFAMILIAR WITH, I would go back to my fav station and listen to whatever they had going on with my fingers crossed that they would play something cool or familiar to me on the next song.

Do you understand how powerful that was?

I had to listen.

I had to wait out the new song from the new band I never heard of in the hopes of hearing something I liked or was more aware of.



Many of those unfamiliar songs became huge hits.

Many of those new artists became icons.


I was forced to be exposed to them because there was only 2 storefronts selling what I liked.

Terrestrial radio literally had a captive audience.

Radio Ruth Hartnup Pez Candy Image

Choices Photo by: Ruth Hartnup

Now they don’t.

Now the consumer has choices.

Choices that include terrestrial radio, satellite radio, HD Radio, Deezer, Pandora, Spotify, iTunes Radio, I Heart Radio, Tidal, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, your own personal play list, etc.

Ask network television, more choices mean less viewers/listeners.

Less listeners means less exposure.

Less exposure means less ad sales.

Less exposure means less record sales for the artist/label.

Radio Artist Ice Cream Cone


Have you paid attention to declining sales in the last 10 years in the record industry?


The bestselling country record of 2004 sold 11 million copies. The bestselling country record of 2014 barely broke 1 million.




I think not.

If a consumer doesn’t like what they are hearing OR is unfamiliar with a new song/artist, they can keep changing the dial to a never ending selection of audio picks that ensures they are going to find what they want.

What they want is what they are familiar with.Radio We Covet What We Know


We covet what we see and hear every day.


This new technology in GM automobiles is a game changer.



Understanding the declining importance of terrestrial radio is a game changer to an any artist, indie or on a major label.

This news is a game changer to every label as well.


Radio Barking


You’d better be barking up the right tree.


It’s your precious resources. That is to say your precious time, money, effort, etc., that you are putting into the game; you have to make it count!

Don’t be nostalgic, man. You’ll lose.



If you are fashioning your hopes and dreams as a new artist on the power of terrestrial radio for your promotion strategy you are wasting your time.

Worse yet, you are waiting to be “discovered” so a major label can just handle that for you.


Terrestrial radio is still powerful, yes, this is true.Radio vintage radio recording


It won’t be by the time you get your act together and make a play.

That said, the artists who OWN the airwaves now are barely selling their music.

Think about that!


Consumers need and expect more than a song on the radio to influence their buying decisions these days.

Radio Relationship

Consumers want a relationship.

This is clear by the abysmal record sales of 2014.


Consumers will purchase from an artist they are familiar with.


Consumers will purchase from artists they feel they have a relationship with.




Taylor Swift knows this. All her fans think they are “besties” with Taylor.Radio Taylor Swift 1989


She had no problem selling 7 million copies of “1989” without any promo from country music radio where all her other records were promoted.


Most of you can’t really comprehend the significance of that feat.



If consumers aren’t familiar with you, they won’t purchase from you and you’ll stay at your day job; your “backup plan”.

Radio Beehive



If you want to succeed, you’ll need to learn how to reach out and find your own beehive, make relationships in that beehive, and deepen relationships in that beehive.

If you want to sell 10,000 records, you will have to shake 10,000 hands which means you will have to meet 10,000 people.Radio Shaking hands


If you figure that out, your bees will make you honey.


Most of you still aren’t taking marketing seriously at all. You think as long as you build the masterpiece, they will come.

Radio FalseThis is categorically FALSE.


You believe this so much that you blow your entire budget on the recording with zero left for marketing.


It won’t happen without marketing.


YOU won’t happen without marketing.

For those of you that do think about marketing, you’re probably still strategizing exactly how to get your music on the radio.

Oh, and you’re oddly antisocial on social media which baffles me.Radio Antisocial

The crappiest most ineffective social media strategy is to NOT BE SOCIAL!!!

You have to make yourself available and adorable and compelling to the consumer so they will become familiar with you.

Get it?

Radio Bailey Instagram

People, this puts the power COMPLETELY in your hands.


We have a 12 year old artist we have been working with for 4 months (ish) and we have built up an Instagram account to over 19,000 followers.  She averages a SOLID 500 likes per post. She averages a solid 50-60 comments per post.


Many of these people will buy her EP, merch, tickets, trinkets, etc.


We are making her available and getting her following familiar with her.



They will buy.

We will create more traffic.

This new traffic will also buy.

She will develop a following.

We did all this from a laptop computer.Radio Laptop Computer

What’s your excuse?


It’s never been easier.


You seriously need to be as good at marketing as you are at making music.


Radio Coffin Meme


GM just put an exclamation point on the demise of terrestrial radio.


Why chase it?







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