Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Best Record Label You've Never Heard Of

Greatest Video Game Music image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
If you think pop music is difficult to make money with online, image what it's like with classical music, which has always had sales that were far smaller.

It turns out that a tiny music group from the great Scandinavian North called X5 has not only made money by selling digital music, it’s beat out music giants like Sony and Warner Music on the Billboard charts.

The way the company has done it is with compilation albums of licensed material with titles like “The 99 Darkest Pieces of Classical Music” or “The 50 Most Essential Pieces of Classical Music,” which has made more than $2 million worldwide since being released in 2008. X5 has released more than 8,000 of these thematic albums (wow!) and has packaged them by composer, mood, holiday, and anything else they can think of that might be attractive to their customer. The thing is, most of their releases fall under the “classical” genre, a type of music that's notoriously difficult to sell, especially in the digital space.

But believe it or not X5 was the number two classical label in the U.S. in 2010 with a 20% market share, and had 13 #1 Billboard Classical albums, which was more than any other label except for Universal.

How did they do this? By using some simple tricks that you can use as well:
1) Their albums are inexpensive and they do everything to keep the costs down, including labor.
2) The artwork is simple but striking. Even in the digital world, graphics sell, just like with physical product (see the example to the left).
3) They distribute through every major music site and distributor, no matter how small they might be. 
4) They design albums with a “music SEO” in mind. They know who their audience is and they design everything about the album around reaching him.
5) They optimize for social search (the act of finding music and albums via social networks or app search bars) since it's become the main way that a lot of people find their music. 
If X5 can do that with classical music, couldn't you do the same with your music?

You can read more about X5 in this article.

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