Location, Location, Location.
Here’s the deal, in this market example, the foot traffic is a reality regardless of what bars are there. Putting a business along that street will guarantee you a certain amount of customer traffic. Putting your business on the North side of Broadway will guarantee 40% more opportunities for commerce.
Online, when it comes to consumers and new music/artists, there is no “existing foot traffic”. At least none that will pay your bills in any real way.
Platforms like iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, etc. promised exposure to new indie artists. They imply that you’re placing your music within a framework of “digital foot traffic” and through the popularity of said traffic, created by the already branded, famous artists, the indie artists will find an audience.
As if the traffic overflow would create some kind of magical cornucopia of consumers that are interested in spending their precious time exploring new artists.
POPPYCOCK! This is a lie. Don’t believe it.
They haven’t been able to make that happen as of today.
Consumers go to a digital distribution platform to find something they’re looking for, not to browse or “shop”. Consumers always went to record stores back in the day to find what they were looking for, not to shop; this behavior hasn’t changed.
Here’s a factual observation to bring some persepectivve to this reality. When women go “shopping” it doesn’t always mean they’re going to purchase anything; they enjoy the thrill of the chase as much as the kill. When men “shop” we know exactly what we have to get, we find the store that has it, we do business with that store and then leave. IN AND OUT.
Music consumers shop like men.
If I put a gun to your head could ANYONE tell me about 1 artist who “broke” on iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, Deezer, Slacker, etc.? Is there even one story about an artist who was NOBODY until they put their music up on one of these sites and then found throngs of loyal fans and started a career?
The traffic will come from marketing that YOU do.
YOU will have to create the buzz.
YOU will have to influence the minds of these consumers into responding to and purchasing your music.
The big question I’m always asking myself (you should be asking yourself) is this: If radio isn’t going to expose the new music to the masses (because consumers have choices and will predictably change the channel to find familiar music), what has to happen for an artist to break?
What do I have to do to get ME to break?
Consider this, in the-old-school-radio-breaks-your-single-world, the music, i.e. the single, was the first interaction consumers had with an artist.
Because music was the first experience a consumer had with a new artist, creating buzz and building a brand was initially about the music.
You were essentially forced to sit through an unfamiliar song on terrestrial radio while you waited to hear the DJ play ‘your jam” and if the new song was a hit song, you’d probably like it. Then you heard it 6 more times (however long that took was directly related to how much time you spent listening to the radio) and your buying decision was greatly influenced as the killer new song became more and more “familiar” to you. At some point, you were swayed enough that you would go and spend your hard earned money on that new artist’s record or CD.
Since artists hate to talk about commerce, I’ll serve up another way, it takes 7 listens (and however many spins in a marketplace that is required for a consumer to hear it 7 times) for your hit song to become someone else’s “jam”.
Think about this, it’s a psychological phenomenon that most consumers will always change the channel until they find what they are familiar with. If consumers now have the capability to constantly change the channel, to an infinite amount of stations, until they find “their jam”, how will they be exposed to the new music?
The music is no longer the first interaction a consumer will have with an artist.
Does that make sense?
Before, consumers were forced to suffer through the exposure process, now we don’t have to. We get instant gratification in playing music that is already familiar to us.
Your music is important, don’t get me wrong.
But your music is not going to be the first thing that turns heads and creates a buzz with consumers anymore.
They won’t listen to your new song on the radio when they can so easily find their jam.
How is it going to work?
YOU are now the first contact, the first interaction, the first connection consumers will experience, if they LIKE you, THEN they will hear your music.
You’d better be marketing accordingly, or you’ll experience the crappy sales numbers that all the big dogs are dealing with.
I think there is only one record that has gone platinum this year, y’all.
The old marketing method doesn’t work anymore and the sales numbers prove it.
Here is some data to support my statement.
In 1978 Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes was released and the price was $8.00 which, when put into an inflationary calculator, is worth $28.80 in 2015 dollars. Tom Petty’s new CD Hypnotic Eye (released in 2015) like everyone else’s CD’s can be purchased for $10.99
The price-per-widget has declined by 62%.
Let’s look at unit sales.
The bestselling country music record 10 years ago was Shania Twain’s Up! which sold 11 million copies. The bestselling country music record last year was Jason Aldean’s Old Boots, New Dirt which barely sold 1 million.
Unit sales are down 90% from 10 years ago.
So, price per CD is down 62% and STILL consumers are only purchasing 10% of what they used to purchase just 10 years ago.
Think about this devastating market reality a different way to drive home the incredible impact. What if your current boss told you he was cutting your pay by 62% AND cutting your hours by 90%?
This is a marketing failure.
You may be thinking that the economy is to blame; people are holding on to their money these days.
I would counter with the fact that every day, the poorest people in this country walk into a gas station and pay more than 3 times the price of a gallon of gasoline for something they can obtain FOR FREE; bottled “purified” water, A.K.A. tap water.
Think about that. For a 1 liter bottle of the cheapest water you’re going to pay between $1.50 and $1.99.
There are 3.78 liters in a US Gallon. With the cheapest bottle that would equate to $5.55/gallon for bottled tap water that you can get for free.
It’s not the money.
Why then, if it’s not the money, are sales down?
Jason Aldean had just as much money to promote as Shania Twain.
With every single going into heavy rotation, Aldean had just as much exposure on the radio as Twain.
Aldean was the bestselling country music artist last year, people are paying to see his sold out arena shows. Heavy rotation on terrestrial radio means consumers are definitely familiar with Aldean’s music and ticket sales mean they definitely like him, so why then aren’t they buying his record?
Whenever you pass on purchasing a product you are familiar with and you actually like, it’s for only one reason.
You don’t think it’s worth it.
These days, the consumer buying decisions are being influenced by the artists themselves, not the artist’s music; at least not at first.
Now, you may say “They won’t buy the record because they can hear the music for free on YouTube, or get it through their Spotify/Pandora subscriptions, etc.
You may be right, but again, I give you the bottled water example.
The sales numbers show that artists who focus on relationship with their fans sell more records than artists who are old school and let the “music do the talking”. Fans don’t trust a relationship with the music or song like they used to.
Thus, Taylor Swift sells 7 million units with no Country radio support and Jason Aldean, the darling of Country radio, barely sells 1 million.
Any indie artist that manages to send a project to duplication has no problem selling the first 50 units.
Both of these artist examples sold CD’s because the buyers felt they had a relationship with them.
That’s the key. The music can deepen the relationship, but initially the music is essentially useless. The artist’s interactions, talent, and relationship with the fan is going to initiate the connection. Something compelling, clever, honest, truthful, and spiritual will be the catalyst.
If this concept makes sense to you, why on earth would you wait until the music is finished being recorded to begin to market it?
Let that one marinate inside your head for a second.
If making connections is now the way to get people interested in listening to your music you shouldn’t be waiting for anything. The old school methodology of “waiting till the record is done to promote it” is obsolete if consumers aren’t going to hear the music first.
The old school way requires the music to be the catalyst for the sales, for the artist/fan relationship, so it would make sense to wait because you needed the music to do the marketing.
But if you’re not initially marketing with your first single, you have nothing to wait for.
Radio will continue to lessen in its importance with marketing. That is to say that, in the future, radio will help to “spread the word” but it will no longer be “creating the buzz” and introducing you to the world.
Your proof lies in the sales figures from Taylor Swift, Earl Dibbles Jr., and every indie artist who ever released a shrink-wrapped duplicated project.
The question is, what are you going to do about it?
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