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.
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.”
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.
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.
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 embarrassment 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)
Nowadays, 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.
- They would be playing my jam (So I would stay on that station)
- They would be playing something I was familiar with and hated (which resulted in me changing the station)
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Piece of cake.
Traffic is what’s important. Buzz is better!
Tune (part 2 next week!)
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