The record business is rife with fatal flaws. Even in the heyday there were huge mistakes constantly made by major record labels and those flaws are showing big time in the new music industry.
If you ask any CEO from any company in any industry on any part of this planet what their most valuable asset is, they will tell you it’s their customer list.
Yes, their people are important but you can’t pay good people without cash flow from customers.
Yes, their intellectual property is hugely important, but you can’t monetize intellectual property without customers.
Maybe you’re a fan of Chevy, Ford, Toyota, Dodge, Porsche, BMW, etc.
From the perspective of the CEO’s of any company, you are a customer, maybe even a loyal customer.
Artist “fans” are called “customers” in every other business.
Businesses go to GREAT lengths not only to build and maintain customer lists but also to DEEPEN the relationships with those customers.
Think about your Kroger or Ralph’s (grocery store) discount card. They offer discounts in exchange for information on your buying habits.
They KNOW if you like 1% milk or 2% milk.
They KNOW what kind of beer you like.
They KNOW when you prefer to shop, how much you normally spend, and what products you normally spend your money on.
Now, if we put a gun to Tim McGraw’s head, Katy Perry’s head, AC/DC’s heads, Jay-Z’s head, or Daft Punk’s helmets, they couldn’t tell us who’s buying their music.
The fatal flaw is they don’t know who their customers are!
If you don’t have a customer list, not only is it impossible to identify who the customers are, you certainly can’t contact them.
If you cannot directly contact the customers, you have to spend MILLIONS of dollars on what they call “Branding Campaigns” (that’s super expensive advertising in plain English).
Branding Campaigns put an artist everywhere there is to be for a few weeks at a time to plug the new release and continue to promote it.
People, Us, Vanity Fair, Country Weekly, Taste of Country, blogs, nationwide radio, Letterman, Fallon, Ellen, Seth Meyers, GMA, Today Show, Newspapers, blah, blah, blah.
But what of the artists who don’t have million dollar budgets?
What about the artist you USED to have million dollar budgets?
Even with a million dollar brand name (think any former major label artists who no longer have a major label) the sales will suffer simply because the customers don’t know the product is available.
What if there was a way to “capture” contact information that would become a customer list?
An artist with an active customer list could:
- Deepen relationships with customers creating a tribe-like following.
- Offer exclusive content to make customers feel like they’re “in-crowd”.
- Monetize it by changing to a subscribership business model (think Netflix).
- Inform the customers of new content on YouTube and grow the subscribership.
- Then Monetize YouTube (creating another cash register).
- Inform the customers of any contests the artist is having.
- Inform the customers of upcoming concerts.
- Disseminate any images or content offering social proof of awesomeness.
- Cross promote other artists
- Obtain Corporate Sponsorships
- Monetize it through sales on the artist’s web store.
Some of you hate this idea but I’ll bet if you were famous you would at least entertain the idea of a clothing line, or perfume scent wouldn’t you?
The tremendous power that direct customer contact will bring to an artist was demonstrated quite clearly by Taylor Swift in 2014.
We have probably the biggest superstar on the planet who released a new record but she switched genres.
Yeah, yeah some will argue that Taylor Swift was never really “country” but the point is that all Taylor’s previous records were promoted on Country Radio and “1989” wasn’t.
Country radio felt that Taylor abandoned country music and moved WAY too far into the pop world and therefore refused to promote it by spinning her new singles.
Come to think of it, in Nashville, I haven’t heard ANY Taylor Swift songs on country radio for quite some time which is crazy considering they are continuing to spin every single ever put out by her country peers like Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Carrie Underwood, etc.
Here’s the point, she still had the bestselling record of 2014.
This was true because her fans KNEW the record was coming via her social media. This is huge because while I’m sure most of you are plugging away at your social media, “Swifties” feel like they have a special connection with Taylor.
That’s the key.
Don’t fool yourself on the power of her superstardom either, it was the connection.
George Michael was a superstar stadium act that had sold 25 million albums and 15 million singles with Wham! before he ever got his solo deal with Columbia. His first solo release was “Faith” which sold a whopping 25 million copies. In September of 1990 George released his 2nd solo effort entitled “Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1” (arguably considered his artistic masterpiece).
George was sour at the fact that the Sony Corporation had purchased CBS records. He tried to exercise a “Key Man Clause” in his contract once artist beloved CBS Records President Walter Yetnikoff was replaced with Tommy Mattola in 1990. Tommy took that action personally and detested George’s artistic refusal to appear in any videos to promote the record. As a result, Sony chose not to promote “Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1” and it sold a disappointing 8 million units.
What would have happened if George had been able to contact his 25 million customers?
Want to know how you capture this information?
There are 2 primary ways (depending on the age of your audience) that you can capture customer contact data and begin to build your list.
1 way is called a “Squeeze Page”.
A squeeze page is designed to “squeeze” the contact information out of a potential customer (usually a name and email address) while allowing the customer to “opt in” to email driven marketing initiatives.
The idea is you offer what my friend Rick Barker calls an “ethical bribe” by exchanging a free track(s) for the contact information.
I mean, you need to know where to send the customer’s free track right?
Here are a few links to some squeeze pages we have created at Daredevil Production, LLC. I recommend you experience some of these as a consumer. You can always UNSUBSCRIBE at the bottom of each email address if you want.
- GiftFromJohnny.com (this is to a free download of my bestselling Twitter Book which you are welcome to have if you don’t already own it)
- GiftFromTy.com (this is a free track from Platinum country artist Ty Herndon)
While there is an art to structuring a squeeze page that will optimize conversions, it can totally be mastered. Check out companies like Lead Pages to help you capture that info and store it. (If you have any problems, simply give us a call and we are happy to help you set up your own squeeze page.)
A second methodology which is extremely effective for younger audiences (not so much for audiences over 50) is the text capture methodology.
Check out companies like Call Loop. They offer the ability for your customers to text a “key word” and receive instant downloads of your music.
Now you have their phone number.
Text messages have a 99% open rate.
So imagine you’re playing a live show and you own the crowd. From the stage you instruct everyone to “Raise their phones in the air for a FREE track!” and just like that you get 50 phone numbers.
Did you rock the house?
Did you leave your audience wanting more?
Does your show feel like an event?
Would they LOVE a text from you 1 week before your next show?
I’ll bet they would.
As an independent artist, you can avoid fatal flaws.
Stay In Tune.
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