Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category
I recently interviewed two of my favorite, no-nonsense women in the Seattle music scene, Robin Fairbanks (A&R) and Elizabeth O’Keefe (Operations). They are both part of a music consulting company called Setlist Music Solutions, headed up by Sean Hensley, which specializes in artist development and management. Part I of this series offers Elizabeth’s perspective, and Part II will showcase Robin’s point of view. Both of these women have a lot of hands-on experience helping indie artists succeed.
It’s no secret that the options for self-promotion are greater than ever before for musicians. As a DIY independent artist myself, I often find it overwhelming just to understand all the different business and marketing things I need to do on a daily basis in order to be successful – to say nothing of actually getting them all done – and I have an MBA (and experience in marketing!) Like many artists, I fantasize about a record label riding in like a white knight, begging to sign me and to do all the work to promote my career as a musician. While this still happens for some artists, for most of us, it’s important to move forward with the reigns of our careers still firmly grasped in our own sweaty, trembling hands.
So what’s a girl to do when she realizes there is no way she can do it all herself?
The idea of a boutique recording or music label has been around for a while, and has been written about in articles like this in-depth Baltimore City Paper article published in 2010 or in this article about the Arizona-based Cosmica Artists label. While the terms indie label and boutique label often seem to be used interchangeably, a boutique label generally focuses on a small artist roster, or even a single emerging artist. It may even be started and owned by a producer, or the artists themselves. It could be a non-profit artist collective.
The signed artist(s) may do none, or some of their own marketing. The boutique label may or may not act like a traditional label, providing (and funding) most or all of the services an artist needs, from recording to promotion, booking and tour management. Artists may have to pay for some, or all, services provided, but they get to say they are “signed” to a label. Boutique labels will not sign just anyone, but they might take a chance on a relatively unknown artist. The artist and label’s brands are associated with each other. The boutique label generally chooses the artist, not the other way around.
I am in the process of creating a new visual brand for my music. I am not including links just yet, because it’s not quite done. Read on as to why.
This new “band brand” is for my duo, Solveig & Stevie, and it’s separate from my blogging and marketing online brand (Solveig Whittle). It hasn’t been a particularly fast or easy process. I’m certain much of this is due to my personal combination of obsessive perfectionism and lack of graphic arts skills. However, I suspect, fellow musicians, that I am not alone.
Perhaps you can relate: I’ve tried seven different WordPress themes for my band website. I have agonized over which band pictures to use. I created a band logo myself, after trying crowd sourcing one with two different websites. I started with one album cover, and then changed it.
Because this has been a difficult process for me, I thought perhaps it would be useful to share some of what I learned during this process and some of the online resources I used.
In Part I of this series, I focused on the successful Kickstarter ($20K+) campaign held last fall by the female-fronted indie Seattle band, the Aury Moore Band. Their recently released CD, Here I Am was produced this spring by Stevie (full disclosure). I’m not affiliated myself in any way with band, although I’ve shared some marketing tips with her over the years, and I appreciate what Aury has done to market her CD. In this post, I will detail Aury’s June 2013 CD release party for Here I Am, including the budget and key promotional elements.
I received several requests for more detailed cost information after writing a blog post about my own (much smaller) CD release party in April. I think Aury’s party is a better lesson on how to make money on a CD release party, so I asked her if she would be willing to share her numbers. She was most gracious, so here they are:
- Venue: $0
- Merchandise: $200 (most was left over from the Kickstarter campaign)
- Raffle Items: $100
- Posters, Flyers and VIP Passes:$260
- Pre-printed Tickets: $40
- 1000 CDs (jewel case, 4-page color folder/traycard): $1500 (roughly 400 were given out the night of the party, and an additional 200 mailed out to Kickstarter backers)
Revenue: Approximately $10,000
- Pre-sold Tickets: $4000 (online ticket fees were paid by purchasers)
- Tickets Sold At Door: $4000 (some attendees were “comped”)
- Extra Raffle Tickets: $200 (went to charity)
- Merchandise: $700
(I assume Aury has some kind of revenue-sharing deal with her bandmates, but I didn’t ask about that.) So how did Aury end up netting around $8K at her CD release party?
Alas, a decade is practically an eternity online, and as such, the download-to-own concept that iTunes revolutionized is already showing signs of age. The growth of subscription-based streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, and the current cultural dominance of YouTube, with its more than three billion videos viewed daily, hint that that music consumers are now largely content to listen, rather than own. - Time Entertainment, April 28, 2013
In this two-part podcast, Jason Spitz and Kyle Bylin of Hypebot’s Upward Spiral Podcast and I discuss some of the customer needs and behaviors that drove iTunes adoption: the unbundling of the single from the CD purchase, as well as the product characteristics (seamless integration with the iPhone, ease of use, standardized pricing). It’s interesting to hear the generational differences in how we adopted (or didn’t!) iTunes to build our personal music libraries, and to note that iTunes clearly was a substitute product for pirated music, even if an imperfect one.
In the second half of our discussion, we cover the transition of customers from download to streaming and debate where the future may lie for Apple’s iTunes and the consumption of music. We discuss iTunes competitors, and what factors might determine whether Apple will continue to dominate music distribution, such as the ubiquity and seamlessness of wifi, and the deep pockets of a platform player like Google, Amazon or Apple, as compared to a software-only offering such as Spotify or Pandora.
Kyle Bylin is the founder and editor of sidewinder.fm, a music and tech think tank, and also conducts research and develop music product concepts for Live Nation Labs. Jason Spitz is an ecommerce expert helping bands, comedians, and other artists build direct-to-fan businesses. In addition to being super-knowledgeable about the music industry, Jason and Kyle are expert conversationalists, and they always pick topics that are timely and interesting.
I sure had fun talking to these guys. Please let me know what you think of our discussion in the comments below!
I did something important this weekend. It was important because I’m dying. Not anytime soon, mind you, but someday I won’t be here. So, because I could - because it mattered to me - this weekend I did a few things I enjoyed doing a lot. Things on my bucket list. These were all things I’ve never done before, and I did them with people I love and respect. I
- entertained 50 people (pictures here),
- performed original music I had created with my life partner, Stevie,
- opened for Amanda Palmer (@amandapalmer, yes that Amanda Palmer), and
- kicked off the launch of the first ever Solveig & Stevie CD, Superwoman (available soon via iTune and all your favorite channels and services).
Oh, and I moved people. That is really the most important part of what I did this weekend. I made something beautiful and magical for people I love and for complete strangers alike. How do I know this? Because people haven’t stopped telling me since last Saturday. That is why I make music: to move people. I don’t need to be a star. I don’t need to be famous. I’m old (relatively), and I have three kids. I think regularly about how best to live the rest of my life, and what kind of meaningful memories I want to leave behind when I am gone. I’ve done my time in corporate meeting rooms. I want to make people feel. I want to touch people and make them think about their own creativity. If I did that for even a few people last weekend, that makes me happy.
Yes indeed. What a night! Could the long term good vibes of the church be blessing our communion ! I’m not the least bit religious but last night was the best feeling I’ve had in a group of strangers since the sixties. – Tim Rounds