Monday, May 17, 2010

5 Tips On How To Beat The Sales Odds

Market research company Nielsen Soundscan offered some interesting statistics at last week's NARM show (National Association of Recording Merchandisers) and they are indeed sobering if you're an artist.
  • A total of 98,000 albums were released in 2009
  • Only 2.1 percent of those managed to cross the 5,000 sales mark
  • 2.5 million vinyl albums were sold in 2009 
What does this mean if you're a new band or an artist? First of all, you've got a tremendous amount of competition. It used to be that the average number releases was between 25 and 30,000 per year, which is still a huge number. Now we're talking about 3 to 4 times that many and the number is growing every year.

Believe it or not, most artists that make a record have no idea what to do with it, which is a shame considering the amount of time, effort and money involved. Even if the record is great, unless you have a plan, chances are that you, your friends and family will be the only ones to enjoy it.

Even worse, many artists still have their mind set on the elusive record deal, even though it's obvious to most that this is no longer the path to success that it once was. Even more baffling is the fact that many artists still refuse to learn more about how to use the many possibilities that the Internet now holds for building any fan base and marketing the thing you care so much about.

The only way that you can compete today is embrace the concepts of Music 3.0. Here are just a few things to think about (sorry if you've read this here before but there are many new readers who've not been exposed to the concepts yet).

1) You've got to reach out and touch your fans - frequently. Build your email list, keep in touch via social media, talk to your fans and especially, let them talk to you. Read the archives of this blog for a lot more info on how to do all of this, especially this post about how to reach your online audience.

2) You've got to target your audience and not waste time on trying to market to what you think is your audience. Just because you can reach a great deal of the world doesn't mean that it's cost or time efficient to try to do so. The more targeted you can be, the more likely you'll find your true fans (sometimes called "super fans," uber-fans," or "your tribe") and they'll find you.

3) You've got to keep your content fresh. Frequent releases of just one or two songs mean a lot more in keeping your fanbase happy than waiting a year in between each album release. The album is still important, but it's not the center of most fans or listener's music world any more, so keep those songs coming, preferably every six or eight weeks. Release an album when you have enough songs as described in this article about the new release schedule.

4) You've got to think outside the box. Trying something different like making a vinyl record doesn't mean that you'll automatically have an audience, but it does give you a better chance of being heard or at least have a story. Some artists have even released cassettes and 8 track tapes (although no one can probably play them). It's the story and the experience that you're selling, as well as the music. Which brings us to.....

5) You have to have a story. As Tom Silverman of Tommy Boy Records and the New Music Seminar said at the recent NARM, "The most important thing you can do (above music even) is create a great story; story sells, create context." The story allows you to raise up above the pack. It allows you to glow while your competition fades. It was always important, but now it's more important than ever.

Those 5 points are just an overview. There's a lot of detail to each, plus there's plenty more that you can do to take advantage of Music 3.0. Watch this blog for more tips, read my Music 3.0 Internet Music Guidebook and other great books like Ariel Hyatt's "Music Success In 9 Weeks"to get started.

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