Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Formulating a Digital Strategy

In previous post I have talked about having a plan. Make your plan with one thing in mind, YOUR PLAN WILL PROBABLY HAVE TO CHANGE. As technology advances at a more than rapid pace, we all need to be students of what is happened to the business and ponder the possibilities of where it is going. The compact disk as a format has had a pretty good run (nearly 30 years) when compared to the 8 track tape and the cassette. The mp3 has had a run of over 12 years and now many of you don't even own music at all. Services like Pandora, Slacker and other streaming services now satisfy the appetite of millions of music consumers. Where does this leave all of us as far as marketing our music in a way that will actually put any money in the artists pockets? I hear and read complaints from musicians and artists about how keeping up with all of this and maintaining a social media presence eats an enormous amount of time and energy that many feel would be best spent writing and recording music or perfecting their chops on their instruments of choice or honing their production chops. My answer to that is of course, STOP YOUR WHINING! You can't have your cake and eat it too. What I mean is that the internet has eliminated the barriers of entry into the digital music market and gatekeepers such as record labels and terrestrial radio are losing market share daily to indie types like yourselves. If you make great music and can deliver your music in as many places as possible, you don't need the gatekeepers anymore. I am not saying that a record deal is never the answer and that radio can't help you, simply that there are so many outlets for your music now and great music can be heard by millions of people without all of that. The point here is that you really must define what your goals are and question why you are doing what you are doing. If you are on twitter simply to yell at people about your shows or to buy your music, that strategy will fail. Be honest about expectations. Centralize your efforts. Create continuity. The digital world for a band is more about community than marketing. Use every means necessary to not only get your music out but to listen to your fans about what makes them listen, buy music or come to your show. To sum this up, think about where you need to be, why you are there and what your goal and expectations are. Sounds simple. Is it?


  1. I really like the cheap/free digital download followed by a limited/deluxe/vinyl/etc physical release that some bands have adopted. I feel that if I like a band and the music they make enough I will buy the physical release to show my support, even if I have already downloaded it.

    I need more GK vinyl BTW

  2. I keep making that point to bands. Physical product is a keepsake for fans. They can listen to the music via digital download anyway so why not make your physical release something that a hardcore fan can't live without. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Everybody gets lost in the mechanics of the industry. They are just a means to an end. What is the 'end'? I believe it boils down very simply. Music is art. It exists (should exist) for no other reason than to evoke an emotional response from the consumer and provide an emotional outlet for the creator.

    All the industry mechanics and commercialization should exist solely to encourage that. Unfortunately, as we all know, that changed at some point during the last century. So if you care about your craft and haven't "made" it yet, you owe it to yourself to get back to basics and figure out what works well enough to enable you to continue to do what drives you as an artist.

    Easier said than done for sure.

    Monetization by recording has been a double edged sword. They enabled the world to listen to this amazing variety of talent and styles, but by doing that, it has turned the craft into a product which has been relentlessly diluted and ultimately in the digital age, devalued to next to nothing.

    The next big thing is exactly what you're doing right now, Jeff. Connecting. That emotional response that can be evoked with a conversation. Bands shouldn't be marketing with Twitter, they need to be having a dialogue, giving insight, providing a relationship to supplement the emotion that their art introduces. THAT is the true value-add of social media. Not blanket spamming tens of thousands of "followers" with a URL to your new track, but being a real person to your fans.

    Kudos to you.

  4. Well said Matt. There is no end. It is reported that Google is working on the next big thing in social media and that it will bury Facebook.