Tag Archive for: Pandora

Music Business Feature Meme

The music business will settle out of this massive maMusic Industry Buh-Bye 2rket disruption in the same way that EVERY other industry has. The creators will do business directly with the end-users.

The future of the music industry, whether you like it or not, is 1-to-1.


Buh-bye distribution.


Right now, all artists & labels go through a third-party distribution service like iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, etc. who are NOT sharing the fan’s contact information.


Oh, and they’re taking an exorbitant amount of money for this service ranging from 30% to damn near all of it.


Music Business Share MEME

Distribution as we know it will either disappear completely or be significantly repurposed.


What do I mean by “repurposed”?




Imagine every artist with their own music app. Imagine the app is initially free like a video game but requires the consumer pass through “pay walls” to get to new levels. You navigate the paywalls with a “BUY NOW” button or watch a commercial, just like Spotify.

Music Business Distribution NO MEMEWhen the industry embraces this reality the creator’s revenue will increase as high as 170x.  Take what you made last year from your streams and downloads and multiply that by 170.


What would the difference on your bottom line look like with this increase?


Indie artists will play the role of the “guinea pigs” and work out the kinks in the software. Then the iconic multi-million-dollar brand names will make these technologies ubiquitous.


I know this, again, because it’s happened in every other industry in the wake of the internet.


Now, you may say to yourself, “The music industry must be different otherwise we would have already adapted like ‘all these other industries’”.


The music business endured some significant damage directly related to the internet, but we were still selling records initially. Tens of millions of records in 2004-2008 (post-Napster).  This was because the delivery mechanism of choice for music was terrestrial radio. Terrestrial radio was working just fine up until June 29, 2007.


That’s when the iPhone was introduced.


Music Business iPhone MEME Hombre


The industry was taking some serious fire prior to this date, but the iPhone really broke the dam wide open and sales plummeted.


Most people are now receiving their information (thus becoming aware of new artists) through their smartphone. Therefore, marketing must be crafted to be effective in a 1-on-1 exchange as opposed to a mass media exchange.





The dynamics of a mass media exchange and a 1-on-1 exchange are diametrically opposite.


Here are a few emerging technologies that are going to blow your indie artist mind. They’re legit. They have massive amounts of venture capital funding to facilitate a 1-to-1 future in the music business.




Blockchain is a technology, not a company or brand name, that is very real but largely still developing.


Music Business BlockchainIt was originally developed for the digital currency Bitcoin which has expanded to a value of over 9 billion dollars. However, the massive applications for anything of value, like music, are exploding into the marketplace.


It’s real enough that Spotify has purchased a Blockchain entity and is currently testing it.


“The Blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” – Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016)


Blockchain is also being adapted to behave as a “common server” type technology that will store the creative metadata for artists and songwriters. Creative metadata that cannot be manipulated.


Why is that important?


Music Business VaultHave you ever noticed that you can upload your interpretation of a cover song to YouTube and get exposure but if you do it directly to Facebook they’ll take it down?


This is because YouTube has a sophisticated backend technology that ensures the creators of said cover are getting paid. Facebook doesn’t.



Get it?

With Blockchain every digital platform can easily be accounted for legal payouts.

Additionally, there are tens of millions of dollars in unaccounted streaming revenue. All the streaming companies have collected the revenue but don’t have the information needed to make the payouts.


The Blockchain is on its way and the artists who have adapted NOW to begin amassing the contact data of their fans will benefit the most tomorrow.


Zedge (Formerly Freeform Development)


CEO and founder, Tim Quirk (lead singer of Too Much Joy) has really nailed it with this technology.


Zedge is a music app that will monetize your art by combining the concepts of 2 major technologies; WordPress and video games.


Are you familiar with the website platform called WordPress which powers over 37% of the internet? If you are, you know that it’s a perfect blank Music Business Zedge Logocanvas. You can create any kind of customer experience you like. There are 47,000 different companies and technologies that orbit around WordPress in the form of plug-ins that enhance the user experience as well as the back-end analytics for the creator. The ability to create a killer up-to-date website lies solely in your hands to do for yourself or outsource to a developer.


Here’s the deal, it’s completely free to you. Most of the plug-ins are free as well. Some cost money but they are nominal amounts and well worth the price.

Music Business WP Logo

Put that concept over here for now.


The video gaming piece is fascinating conceptually. In the same amount of time it took the music industry to shrink 80% from 75 billion per year down to 15 billion per year, the video gaming industry exploded to 108 billion per year.




Mostly because they understand that “free” equals distribution. Of course, if you want to get to the second level of the game, you’ll need the magic ax which you either must purchase with a “Buy Now” button or watch a commercial to obtain.


Now, imagine that there were music apps that were free to build for the creator with complete autonomy to set up a user experience all their own.


Music Business Free Equals Distribution MEMEFor instance, get the first song free but if you want to hear the rest of the record you either buy now or watch this commercial.


What about setting up a VIP level where they get exclusive content from the artist, in advance of the general public, and discounts on all merchandise? Every month the VIP subscribers would be required to pay a nominal fee or watch a commercial.


Either way, the creator gets paid directly from the end user (fan) or indirectly from the ad sponsor.


Music Business PAID MEME


So, it would build your app like a WordPress site. there would be tons of tech companies orbiting around the app to provide improvements that enhance the user and creator experience. Also, there would be a “marketplace” where artists could add a commercial sponsor to generate revenue. Seasoned artists could easily add their current endorsement companies.


This has happened already in beta mode. Zedge has created 12 apps with brand name artists like Rob Thomas and G-Eazy to name a few. These were created for the purposes of providing “proof of concept” to the investors.





Music Business Pay MEMEHere’s the killer takeaway.

Average amount of revenue per spin for Spotify = 1/5 of a penny

Average amount of revenue per spin for Pandora = 1/3 of a penny

The average amount of revenue per spin for Zedge = .34 cents!!!


That’s 170 TIMES the revenue of a Spotify spin!


All the different artist apps can be housed under one icon on your phone so you don’t have clutter.


These revenue numbers are too big to ignore. When they launch this, the Taylor Swifts and U2’s of the world will have to try it out.


The indie artists with a customer list will THRIVE.


How much will they thrive, you ask? What if the financial Universe of the music industry was limited to 75 billion per year because radio was mathematically limiting? There was a finite amount of room to spin songs and thus a finite number of artists that could effectively be marketed.


But now there are no restrictions. I don’t think it’s a dream to believe that the music industry could rise from the ashes of broken radio and ascend to 150 billion per year in sales.


Just a thought.







Marketing Tweaks Feature MEME

Marketing Tweaks Chess Challenges MEMEMost great indie artists have incredible art but experience challenges connecting to new fans because their marketing approach needs tweaking.


There is a healthy contingent of artists who are legitimately trying to market but are naively going about it the wrong way.


A keen understanding of marketing is exactly what will put the power in your hands and that power is more than you can imagine.


Marketing Tweaks Power In Your Hands



Yes, you the artist, can hold all the cards if you simply make a few tweaks in your philosophy of marketing.



I wanted to provide some clarity to indie music marketing with this article.


First, indie artists must understand, as basic as this is, the difference between distribution and marketing.





Putting your song up on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Bandzoogle, Bandcamp, Reverbnation, and YouTube, etc. is distribution.






Distribution is WHERE consumers will go to purchase or consume something.


Marketing is WHY the consumer is going there to purchase it.


Marketing Tweaks Marketing Stage MEME


For instance, most of you have probably made a purchase on Amazon. They are a distributor. But you didn’t buy the product because it was on Amazon, did you? You weren’t just randomly “shopping” by scrolling through Amazon web pages when you came across this shiny thing that made you pull out your credit card.




No, you were marketed to first. You were made aware of the product and somehow your buying decision was influenced enough to want to purchase it. That’s marketing!


Then you chose to go to Amazon to get it. That’s distribution.


Big Difference.


I want you to think about marketing your music with that story in mind. What is going to get people excited enough to learn more about you and your music?


Marketing Tweaks Growth Seedling MEME


Putting your original songs up on YouTube is distribution. The only people who are going to experience that music are already aware of you as an artist. Think about that. This approach is not getting you into growth.




Marketing your music is not JUST about making sure your current fans are aware of any new releases.


Marketing for the indie artist is about finding new people to expose your music too.


The previous statement may sound ridiculously elementary to some of you, but you’re not using the tools you currently have in the correct manner to grow your audience.


I know this because I see it every day with almost ALL indie artists as well as signed artists!!


One slight tweak in your approach on YouTube changes everything.


Marketing Tweaks Find MEME Possessed



Post a video of you interpreting a cover song that is popular right now. This cover song will generate a ton of traffic and a small percentage of people who are looking for the original artist’s video will stumble across your version and watch it.




That equals new people watching you as an artist. That’s growth.


Not only are they experiencing your spin on a song they are already familiar with, but because they know the song, their subconscious focus is on your interpretation.


The information that is coming through as they watch is your artistry.


Marketing Tweaks End Card Template YouTube


If you’re good, people will respond. Not for nothing, often by doing this important work you’ll find things that people respond to that you weren’t aware you posessed.


If you ask them, they’ll subscribe.


If you’re smart, you’ll give them a free download in exchange for their email address so you own the information. More on that later.


If they learn to like YOU, the artist, then they’ll be far more likely to listen to your original music. When they do listen, they’ll have an open mind and an open heart because your cover rendition won their heart and they’re prepared to love you.


This is marketing on YouTube.


If you think about it, it’s not that different from American Idol or The Voice, is it?


Marketing Tweaks The Voice Traffic MEME


It’s important to note that in a situation like TV, old popular covers will be effective because the TV show is bringing the new people to see the artist. The TV show is providing the traffic but on YouTube the new songs are what is driving the traffic.


Get it?




Always ask yourself, where’s the traffic coming from? This will influence your song choices.


Second, let’s talk about social media.


Most indie artists copy their idols’ social media behaviors. They have posts doing this or that on stage or behind the scenes, etc.


Marketing Tweaks BLIND



This method is important but you need to recognize that it only supports the fans who are aware of you as an artist. Think about it, if they don’t know you, how are they going to see a post like that?





Don’t get me wrong, this is an important piece of your social media strategy, but only for your current fans. This method does little if anything for expanding your audience.


To market on social media means getting your content in front of new people that aren’t currently aware of you.


This requires a different thought process and execution strategy.


Take off your artist hat and put on your record label executive hat just for a second.


Marketing Tweaks MC X Factor MEME


You just signed the greatest baby act in the world; YOU.


But nobody knows about this new artist so how are you going to get that artist in front of a new targeted group of people who will probably like your artist’s music?




Well, let’s say this new artist you signed (you) is a rap artist. In the interest of clear communication, let’s give your new artist a name; MC X Factor.


Right off the bat, we have TONS of rap artists with faithful followers on all their social media accounts.


But let’s drill down some more.


What kind of rap artist is MC X Factor, exactly?


Marketing Tweaks Lil' Wayne Album Cover

If money and connections were no object, what rap artist would you put MC X Factor on tour with because the headliner’s audience would relate to MC X Factor’s music?






Don’t look now but you are in the process of defining your artist’s audience.


Once you have determined exactly who they are, now you have to find where they hang out.


This is called targeting.


If MC X Factor would absolutely CRUSH it on tour with Lil’ Wayne because his fans would love your artist’s music, then start following people that follow Lil’ Wayne on Twitter and Instagram.


Marketing Tweaks Love Them First MEME


Love them first. (See how it’s always about them?)




Be the first to reach out, shake hands, and say “Hello”.


A decent percentage of these new people will follow you back and hang if you have interesting content.


Don’t try and slam your mix tape down their throats immediately after they follow you back because they will unfollow you.


You would hate that too, right?


Marketing Tweaks start a Conversation MEME

What if when they followed you back you asked a question about THEM? You already have common ground in that you both like in Lil’ Wayne. Start there.  Between current news, tracks he’s featured on, lyrics, artistry, etc. you have a truck load of content to start a conversation.




What if you focused on at least the first exchange being about THEM and not you? That will forge a solid first impression.


This is creating a relationship with someone new. This is getting you into growth.


Marketing Tweaks Stupid FB Posts



Y’all are perfectly happy bitching about politics and your personal lives on your social media platforms to people who don’t give a crap. I assure you this method is easier and far more effective because everyone is interested in talking about themselves.




It’s little steps. Baby steps.


But these little gains every day add up over time.


The bigger your social media grows and the more you engage with that audience, the more attractive you become to new potential fans and the industry.


Marketing Tweaks OWN the info MEMEThird, how about your live shows?


What are you doing to ensure that you OWN everyone’s contact info after they’ve experienced your live show?



You may have followers, but you DON’T OWN your social media contacts so that’s not enough!


I’m going to repeat that because it’s SO important. YOU DON’T OWN YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA CONTACTS!


You could have 5 million followers on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter but you don’t own them, the respective platforms do and it will cost you to contact all of them.


Marketing Tweaks World In Your Hand


Social media and YouTube are amazing vehicles to target audiences and connect with them but you must take it a step further and convert them into a contact that you own.





Want to be a mogul? OWN THE INFORMATION.


Y’all already know about Facebook and how few people see your posts unless you pay.


Get a squeeze page and work around that problem.


For live shows get a text capture technology. It’s super inexpensive.


Marketing Tweaks Permission Marketing MEME


Permission Marketing is simply the idea that the lifetime value of a fan is worth exponentially more than the .99 cents or $10.99 you’re trying to shake them down for right now.



You’re supposed to be an entertainer of some sort. Entertain them on social media and get them to love you.


Find new people to entertain every day.


Then capture their info and deepen that relationship.


An artist with tens of thousands of engaged contacts is quite powerful to the industry, to brands, and to other artists.


Once you accept this as the one viable method to grow your brand and expose your artistry, you’ll become discoverable and be on your way to making a living.









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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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Long Tail Feature image 2

Long Tail image 2

 Definition of ‘Long Tail’



long tail


noun: long tail; plural noun: long tails

  1. 1.  (in retail and marketing) used to refer to the large number of products that sell in small quantities, as contrasted with the small number of best-selling products.

In business, long tail is a phrase coined by Chris Anderson, in 2004. Anderson argued that products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, but only if the store or distribution channel is large enough


Guess what?


We are there; it’s called the internet. Most of you seem to understand that concept but still fail to really grasp what it means (crazy dichotomy right?). There is no valuable “shelf space” on the internet. So indie music currently lives and can thrive on the “long tail”.

All the music services like Spotify, Rhapsody, Pandora, Deezer, blah, blah, blah promised us EXPOSURE on the long tail through their services but failed to realize (or care) that a small percentage of consumers would try their “Techie” solution for new music discovery and those that did would be burned by shitateously written, weakly recorded, poorly marketed pieces of crap that came up because the algorithm felt it “sounded like this”. But I digress.”head” is defined as the top 20% of music sales or all the major label, major capital, major tour, major hype, major market, major brand, super popular music all of us aspire to be (those of you that say you don’t are liars, you just want to be a huge act on your terms instead of kissing ass and changing any part of your artistic approach, but you secretly want the big time all the same. I mean what a high class problem, right? Having huge success [meaning throngs of people adore you for your music] without kissing any ass?). Just own it.



The Head is Shrinking

DSC00059This means that the effectiveness of a mass market, mass media pipeline, and thus mass exposure, is continually decreasing through constantly expanding channels of content; it’s fragmenting. Let me explain in terms of television fragmentation and relate it to mass exposure (from which fame is a byproduct). In 1980 there were 3 TV networks (if you were born during or after the 80’s you’re going to have to trust me on this and try to LEARN from this) they were ABC, NBC, and CBS. This means there were 3 main places for the whole country to consume popular TV shows (a.k.a. content).


1980 TV Viewership Statistics

Dallas Long Tail imageIf you look at this 1980 TV ratings chart you will see there was an estimated 79.9 million households with a TV (if you average between 1 and 2 kids per household you’ll get pretty close to the 1980 United States population of around 226 million people meaning just about every household had a TV.) I then average the estimated viewership of the top 10 rated shows to be 20.1 million viewers. If you divide that into the estimated number of households with a TV you get a statistic that says the top 10 shows enjoyed an average of 25% of the total TV viewing audience; essentially 25% of the country!

2013 TV Viewership Statistics

If look at this Nielsen Report you will see there was estimated 115.6 million households with a TV in 2013. I then Best of 2013 Long Tail imageaveraged the viewership from this 2013 TV ratings chart show a statistic that says the top 10 TV shows in 2013 averaged 8.9 million viewers. Divide that number into the 115.6 million estimated households with a TV and you get just 7.7% of the total TV audience.

See how it’s fragmenting?

Can you see how being on a hit TV show means you are being exposed to far less people then you were in 1980?

This is what we mean when we say the head is shrinking.

Can you also understand how any “home run” makes you far less famous nowadays?


Terrestrial Radio Application

file0001980941201This very dynamic applies to terrestrial radio as well. With all the new “Deckless” cars and smart-phones acting as mobile internet antennae, the consumers now can choose from terrestrial radio, Satellite radio, HD radio, personal playlists on a smart phone, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, Slacker, etc.; it’s fragmenting too. Which means the head of music marketing is shrinking too. One could argue that this means the amount of Rockstars is shrinking as well. After all what is the definition of a Rockstar but a music artist that is famous from mass market exposure, right?



The Long Tail is Growing

And so it goes, the long tail grows making it easier to be exposed but harder to get exposure. Does that make sense? The very market that would LOVE your music is so very reachable, but how do you do it?



What exactly does long tail mean for indie music? It means that because the head is shrinking making the mass market less lucrative, and the devaluation of music is making it financially irresponsible for big money to risk developing artists, any plans that rely solely on big money (a.k.a. record labels and big investors) to find you, develop you, and break you are poorly laid. You have a better chance of winning the lottery regardless of your talent. It means that you are now responsible for PROVING your music has value in the marketplace first; it means you are going to have to become a business person and learn to market yourself effectively. Commerce! Ugh…why do we despise that so much? The very term “professional musician”, regardless of the music being high brow or low brow, requires commerce! You better embrace it!

As I mentioned in my previous post, the good news is that it is easier than ever before to define and reach an Digital Rock Star Long Tail imageaudience all over the world. There are 7 billion people on this planet and many of them are connected and reachable! Surely it can’t be that hard to sell 10,000 CDs or downloads if we rethink the approach. Because of this fact, it is easier than ever to make a living as an artist. Hell, just a little business savvy and you could actually create a GROWING Business!

The long tail also means that you can make the music you want to make without interference from meddling record label suits who are trying to direct you to be more “marketable” which means “mass marketable” which means you need to fit into their business model that services only the head. It means your long tail music project could create enough business and momentum to redefine what tomorrow’s “head” will sound like. Just look at acts like The Zac Brown Band who were told by the country music labels they were too “rock & roll” and the rock labels told them they were “too country”. So they took matters into their own hands and became such a huge force to reckon with that they created their own “big break” with probably the best record deal in town. Florida Georgia Line has a similar experience; all the majors DENIED them. They hit the road and worked satellite radio enough to sell 100,000 downloads of “Cruise” which then had all the majors clamoring to sign them. Both of these bands brought their own sound to the mass market and changed the definition amongst the majors as to what the “head” should sound like.

I would also remind you that bands like Rush and Metallica took this same approach touring their asses off, constantly creating, constantly working, and growing huge followings ONE FAN AT A TIME before the internet and social media, “without the help of top 40 radio play!” If you want it, it’s yours to take!

Let’s use the long tail to DOMINATE!!!

Artistically Starving To Death

I have amazing conversations with artists and songwriters every day; I love my job.  Some of those conversations are with beginners, some with intermediate artists, and some are with professional indie artists whose careers are well on their way.  I have to say with the exception of the pro artists, the beginners and intermediates suffer from the same disease; they lack marketing knowledge.  I should say they seem to lack the very concept & definition, never mind the methodology of marketing.  Simply put their artistically starving to death.


Marketing vs. Distribution

Yeah, that’s right, the concept and definition of marketing.  I’ll ask and artist “how exactly are you marketing yourself?”

iTunes logo Artistically StarvingThey will undoubtedly answer, “Well, we are up on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, etc.”  I then wait for their retort to continue, and it doesn’t.  Now I think, What the?!?!

Let’s go back to some good ol’ plain common sense for a second.  Why do record labels have promotion and marketing departments?  I mean if marketing meant getting the music up on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, etc., would actually move product why the HELL would a broke record label keep paying the people in the marketing department?  Any moron can place music up on all these sites; right?Spotify Logo Artistically Starving

How about this perspective:  When you used to go into a record store to buy an album or CD, did you always walk in and magically get attracted to some piece of shrink-wrapped plastic or cardboard spend your money and then leave?  NO!!  You already knew what you wanted to buy which is why you were there in the first place; this is called marketing.  Marketing is the art of influencing buying decisions.  The outlet that is available to sell the product to the person whose buying decision was influenced is the distributor.

Pandora Logo Artistically StarvingGet it?  Just having it “on the shelf” isn’t enough.  In fact, I propose that this is actually part of the problem in today’s music industry; no accountability for product that doesn’t move.  This will never change, but if it did, you would find every artist quickly learning the difference between distribution and marketing; necessity is the mother of invention.


Let me explain.  Anderson Distribution is (I believe) the largest music merchandise distributor in the country right now.  They are an awesome company.  They handle the distribution of all CD’s toAnderson Dist Logo Artistically Starving Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and Best Buy stores to name a few.  When a Label wants to put product (aka your CD) on the shelves of a Wal-Mart, they go through Anderson Distribution and they need to ensure that the marketing of the product (aka your CD) is already underway or the label gets screwed.  This is initially exciting because to get product (aka your CD) on a Wal-Mart shelf, the minimum order is like 100,000 units.  Do the math, if the retail price is $11.99 then Anderson is probably buying the product (aka your CD) from the label for $6.99; $6.99 x 100,000 = $699,000.00!!!  YEEHAW!!!  Um, er, wait a minute…

Let’s back up and do a little more math.  Anderson doesn’t send you a check in advance for this order, just like every other major corporation their accounts payable is on a Net-60 day basis, or in this economy probably a Net-90 day basis.  In plain English, the record label doesn’t get their quote, $699,000 check, end quote, for 90 days.  So that means that the label is going to front you, the artist, $50,000 to manufacture 100,000 CD’s (this is JUST manufacturing of the CD and they get them for .50 cents each because of the large order, you can too if you order this many) this does not include the cost to ship them to Anderson Distribution.  Now, here’s the tricky part.  Anderson is a business.  Their business is DISTRIBUTING PRODUCT (aka your CD) and if the product (aka your CD) is not moving, Anderson Distribution is not making money.  Get it?  In fact, if the product (aka your CD) is Burning money artistically starvingnot moving Anderson Distribution is LOSING MONEY.  There are a limited number of spaces to place CD’s on a shelf in Wal-Mart, I don’t know exactly what that number is but they are only going to put product on those shelves that will MOVE and make them money.   So, the label essentially has 90 days to sell enough of that product (aka your CD) to show Anderson Distribution that it’s a product (aka your CD) that already is or will be a money maker for them.

What’s the exact number?  I have no freaking idea, but this is just common business sense, if you think about it.

What happens if the label doesn’t move enough product (aka your CD)?  Then the Net-90 payment the label will get from Anderson Distribution will consist of a check in the amount of exactly how many of your CD’s they sold minus the shipping cost to return the rest of the product (aka your CD) that didn’t sell.  YIKES!  You read that correctly.  If you sold 1,000 units, you would get a check for $6,900 minus the cost of shipping the remaining 99,000 units back to you.

Does the label put the product (aka your CD) on the shelves of Wal-Mart and say, “we marketed it because it’s now available to be purchased”?  NO!!  You see, this is where the real fight begins.

What exactly are you doing to win this fight with your music?

So, let’s put that in terms of your music.  Websites like iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, and your site; these are storefronts, man, not marketing strategies.  They are an online place to stock product (aka your CD) where interested parties can easily purchase it.  Yeah, yeah, you will get a few sales here and there by just stocking product (aka your music), but you will never get enough to repay the cost of recording and manufacturing.  So after (or even before) you stock the product (aka your CD), you need to market it!  You need to expose it to the world and drive business to these storefronts; then people will buy because their buying decision was influenced by your marketing or sometimes by your music!

Good Marketing = Not Artistically Starving!

Are you picking up what I’m putting down?  If you ask yourself, “what am I doing to market my music” and the answer is “I have it up on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, and my website” then you have already lost the fight.  Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” states that every battle is won or lost before it’s ever fought.  Think about that for a second.  Internalize some of these Sun Tzu quotes real quick.

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Sun Tzu Art of War Artistically Starving Which one are you?  If your music is up on iTunes and you have no marketing strategy then you are the latter; an already defeated warrior going to war first and hoping to win.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

This is huge.  Strategy is defined as a plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result.  Tactics are defined as the maneuvers themselves or any mode of procedure for gaining advantage or success.  In plain English strategy is the plan, tactics are the methods & procedures used to implement that plan.  So a plan to market your music without procedures is the slowest route to victory.  Employing methods or procedures without a plan is wasted time & energy before certain defeat.  Apply this concept to making sandwiches to get a simple perspective on marketing your music.  If you have a strategy for making a sandwich but never get off your ass to go to the kitchen and make one, you can think about it all you want but the sandwich won’t make itself; you go hungry.  If you go to the kitchen and begin preparing to make a sandwich without strategizing as to exactly what kind of sandwich you want you will waste energy pulling out all the breads, mustards, different lunch meats, lettuce, cheeses, etc for no reason because you haven’t decided on the mission critical strategy; what kind of sandwich you want to make.  Until you actually decide to make a specific sandwich your best efforts are fruitless; you go hungry.  It seems so stupidly simple because it is.

Marketing music is no different than making sandwiches, there are just more details to learn.  The smart artist is going to simplify the idea just like this, and start strategizing and creating/learning tactics.  All the information you need is on the web or in a mentor’s brain for the artists who seek it.

One of my favorite movie quotes is from “Auntie Mame” and it says “You’ve got to live, live, live!  Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!”  This is a perfect quote with regards to today’s music marketing because there is literally an embarrassment of effective online marketing methods available right now; and their available to everyone.  Many of these methods are FREE OF CHARGE like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.  If you were forced to prepare before you put product (aka your CD) up on iTunes for fear of product returns and non-distribution after a certain amount of time, you would be pretty focused on marketing, wouldn’t you?

So why aren’t you?

Just because you don’t have any repercussions doesn’t mean you shouldn’t approach stocking product (aka your CD) the same way.

This final Sun Tzu quote is actually my favorite because it’s so inspirational.

“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”
― Sun Tzu

In other words, the more you dig in to this marketing thing seriously, the more opportunities you are going to uncover.

The more money you are going to make.

This in turn, means you make more music; because you now make a living as an artist.

Think about it.


Stay in Tune


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