December 10, 2008

Internet Music Promotion (pt1)

There was a discussion posted over at the Berklee Online Music Marketing course the other week that really struck a chord with me (no pun intended). It resulted in a rather lengthy reply, but of some value (it earned me a good grade so I assume there's some good content here). We were asked to read this article over at the NY Times and then asked to consider all of the Internet tactics used by the artists featured and discuss what we felt to be the most positive aspects of online music promotion covered, along with the drawbacks of Internet promotion and in what ways we could you use some of these techniques to market our own music. Much of it is relevant to the advice on Music Jobs, and in part 1 here I mainly discuss the positive aspects of a strong online strategy. Enjoy...

One of the big positives of online promotion is the interaction an artist has with their fans. In the past it was rarely possible to connect with them as often or as strongly; it was mainly a passing comment or autograph at a show. Nowadays, fans think it nothing to send their idols an email or blog comment, sometimes simple but sometimes quite deep and meaningful. As Coulton realised, "his fans do not want merely to buy his music. They want to be his friend". The connection with fans can be inspiring and give an artist creative (and other) motivation. I think there is another very important positive here because, as Thompson writes, fans can be a "promotion department" for an artist. They record videos at shows and distribute them online, they re-blog and link to digital stores in order to assist record sales, they tell friends on social networking sites about upcoming concerts. Having a good relationship with fans also enables new strategies such as Coulton's "flash mob approach to touring". Playing at lesser known towns that not only have a strong local following, but are also a good mid-way point between other cities with additional fans, means that he can play one very good gig and earn well from it, rather than a possibly financially uncertain, and sometimes unrewarding long drawn-out tour schedule.

Online media may be a relatively new thing, but it has fast become the norm with the young 'Generation-Y' music consuming public. "Fans aren’t hearing about bands from MTV or magazines anymore; fame can come instead through viral word-of-mouth, when a friend forwards a Web-site address, swaps an MP3, e-mails a link to a fan blog or posts a cellphone concert video on YouTube". I feel this statement shows just how important it is to be a part of the change in the industry; fans are in online chatrooms swapping links, no longer at a record fairs swapping notes in notebooks. It really should be a key part of any artist's marketing strategy, and it has certainly created "a fresh route to creative success". Thompson writes, regarding the rapid success of Scene Asthetic on Myspace, "This sort of career arc was never previously possible. If you were a singer with only one good song, there was no way to release it independently on a global scale — and thus no way of knowing if there was a market for your talent". Myspace provided that platform, and the band embraced it. This success, although rare, is completely possible of all online artists, and a very good argument for the positives of online marketing.

Another plus of the online promotion route is the cost. Although the article doesn't directly mention the fact that the online social networks are a great free tool for hardworking newcomers, it does point out that "This is not a trend that affects A-list stars. The most famous corporate acts — Justin Timberlake, Fergie, BeyoncĂ© — are still creatures of mass marketing, carpet-bombed into popularity by expensive ad campaigns and radio airplay." As we have all learnt by now, this type of marketing approach is not viable or effective for new artists and extremely expensive.

Check back soon for part 2 and the negative impacts that you should be aware of!

Lee Jarvis.

Cross-posted at UK Music Jobs


RMJ said...

i see why you had an A (A it's the best grade you can have, right? here in Portugal is diferent, that is why i ask)
You have a good example of a band, or a front man, that really nows the importance of fans, of social networks, of internet, of mouth to mouth...
have you ever spend time on Nine Inch Nails website? Trent should be one of those cases that in few years from now you will learn from him in classes. I'm not going to talk about the music itself, as it's not the case here, but the way he ALWAYS related to fans is something really amazing. Other bands do it do, the point is, why labels refuse to see this, and take this step? i work in this music industry and sometimes struggle with this blindness of some comapnies, it seems to me so obvious...
well i'm sorry for taking advantage of the comments box, i just found it hard not to do it :)
this is a great blog by the way! and i loves the article you wrote.
i'll be back


Lee Jarvis said...

Rita, I'm glad you enjoyed the post, and you're very right with the way that forward-thinking bands such as NIN and Radiohead (I blogged on them here: are trying new strategies and the major labels are left behind. They are struggling to cope with the way the music industry is changing and I'm sure we will chat in more depth on future blog posts!

Thanks for the comment,

TracySoulAmbition said...

Great post - posted it for discussion on @unconvention and its facebook groups, ahead of our (free, music industry/tech) event. Don't suppose you're free for a trip to Belfast on 6th/7th Feb..? ;)

Take a look:

Looking forward to reading more!

Lee Jarvis said...

Hi Tracy, thanks for your comment!

I'm glad you enjoyed it and shared over @unconvention as it seems we're on the same wave length :)

I would have loved to join you guys but I'm currently living in Chicago! I'm back in the UK over summer so hopefully will be able to participate in another event then. Keep in touch!