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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

5 Reasons For A Revolutionary Year In The Music Biz


There was an interesting article at Billboard.biz yesterday entitled, "5 Reasons Why 2010 Will Be Revolutionary For The Music Biz." The article made a few good points, but I'm not so sure if I agree with every premise. Here are the 5 reasons outlined in the article, along with my thoughts on each.

1) The Ticket Master/Live Nation merger. The article states that the merger will enable the new company to sell entertainment packages in such novel ways that it will impact ticket sales for the better. I think that what's really going to change the concert business is the backlash from consumers on a variety of issues, including sky high prices, premium seats only available through ticket brokers, and too many unnecessary ancillary fees. The revolution is indeed coming, but it's the consumer who will be doing the impacting, not TM/LN.

2) The Performance Rights Act changes radio. The Performance Rights Act enables artists other than songwriters to get paid for airplay. The way it is now, only the writers of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" get paid for every one of it's more than 7 million plays while the Righteous Brothers never made a penny. The Performance Rights Act makes sure they're finally given a tiny sliver of compensation for singing the song. The NAB has been painting the act with gloom and doom, stating that radio stations will be going bankrupt everywhere, or turning to talk radio. it might actually be a good thing if they go bankrupt and let someone else take over, but that will never happen. Instead of "big radio" making a big profit every year, they'll make a slightly less big profit and move on.

3) Internet Service Providers become partners. The article states that this is the year when ISPs start enforcing pirating laws and collecting fees for the record labels. Yeah, dream on. The ISP's will merely respond, "Hey, we're just the pipe. You guys are the water flowing through it. Regulation is up to you the way it's always been!" Having the ISPs do the labels dirty work and collecting money for them is just a label fantasy.

4) Spotify will raise the bar for mobil music. If you don't already know, Spotify is a subscription music service that's been pretty successful in parts of Europe, but has yet to debut here in the US because of licensing issues with a few of the major labels. The service is supposed to get going here in 2010, but reports are that it's severely hampered by cash flow and may never have the bucks to be able to put if over the top. My bet is that Apple begins it's iTunes subscription service in 2011, at which time music subscription will take off.

5) Almost any way you slice it, EMI will reshape the industry. EMI used to be a major label but it's recently become a non-entity in the major label world. Cash-strapped, short on management, no respect, and few hits, the only thing it has going for it is a huge catalog. The article thinks that EMI will get turned around and become a major again (of course it would say that, Billboard would love to get some EMI ad dollars). The bet here is that those days are over and if it's lucky, EMI will be relegated to being a catalog manager if it stays alive at all.

Read the entire article at Billboard.biz, then tell me who you agree with.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Guidelines For Direct Marketing To Your Audience


It's easy to think that since you have this great mailing list or gigantic list of friends that you have the perfect way to sell your products to them. That's true, but in Music 3.0, direct marketing to your audience must be approached with caution. Your fans want to hear from you, but they want to be informed, not hyped.

Chances are your fans want everything you have to offer, but they don’t want the feeling that they're being "sold". Make an announcement about a new release or a piece of swag, but don’t oversell it. Fans don’t need to know that you think your new music is the greatest thing you ever did and it’s better than the Foo Fighters last release. They’ll decide for themselves and then sell it for you in their own conversations if they like it.

The way to market to your tribe is by simply presenting your product to them. Just make them aware that it’s available, and they’ll do the rest. You can take it a bit further by offering them information about the product - the more exclusive, the better.

Instead of a sales pitch:
  • Give them a behind the scenes story about the making of the product.
  • Tell them where the idea for it came.
  • Tell them about all the people involved, especially other tribe members.
  • Provide interviews with others involved in the project.
  • Give them all the trivia involved in the project, no matter how small. True fans will eat it up. If it’s a new song, tell them where it was recorded, who the engineer and producer were, how many tracks were needed, how long the mix took, how many mixes you did, how the final mix compared to the rough mix, and all of the hundred other fine details that go into producing a song. If you just produced a new T-shirt, describe where the design came from, why you chose the manufacturer, what the shirt is made of, why you chose the color, etc. Get the idea?
Giving them insight that no ones else has makes them feel special, will keep them loyal, and will show casual fans and lurkers the benefits of their participation with you.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Consumer Electronics And Social Media


Just came back from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (for a full report, see my Big Picture blog) and saw a number of significant trends that were surprising for social media and how it relates to musicians.

First of all, more and more television models are now social media aware, with direct connections online to a variety of video hosting sites. This integration bodes well for social media in general as it's not a large jump to be connected to Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or any other networking site. Imagine being able to discuss a television show or video on a split screen of a 55 inch monitor with your online friends while you're watching it. That's the future and it's almost here.

Imagine speaking with friends via Skype over your television. Imagine watching the same show from different locations while seeing each other as if you're in the same room. That's here now, as a number of manufacturers showed models with built-in Skype capabilities.

And while 3D doesn't have anything to do with social media directly, it was the theme of the show. So what, you say? The do-it-yourself nature of Music 3.0 means that anything is possible from creation to distribution and marketing, but 3D was a technology beyond the do-it-yourselfer - until  now. Panasonic showed a prototype of a 3D camcorder that will be within reach of the masses at $21,000. Still expensive, I know, but within reach price-wise and bound to decrease in cost as the technology evolves. Sooner than you think, you may be able to have your own music video version of Avatar ready for distribution via YouTube. And social media will move from the computer to the living room.

My So-Called Digital Life


My personal laptop blew it's logic board on Friday, disrupting my digital life pretty well. While I didn't lose too much data, there are some emails that look like they've gone away.

If you've sent me an email in the last 3 days and have not heard back from me yet, please send it again.

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