Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

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Purpose-Objectives-Tactics

Blah blah blah personal branding blah blah blah purpose blah blah blah cause marketing…

I hear several related refrains oft repeated in the world of social media gurus:

  • “Purpose” is important if you are going to do social media
  • “Cause marketing” (eg. The Ice Bucket Challenge) is the best way to get attention in a crowded social media world drowning in selfies
  • The millennial generation wants to know what principles a brand stands for before they will buy a product with that brand
  • “Storytelling” is the heart of marketing today
  • Being “genuine” is critical in getting your message across because trust is everything in social media and marketing

When my friend, social media practitioner and public speaker, Russell Sparkman, guest lectures in my social media class, he emphasizes the important of Purpose (which from now on in this post, I will refer to with a capital letter) with his succinctly worded foundational principle for social media and content marketing:

As Russell says, “the path to engaging content happens when you connect the dots between:

  • The share-worthiness of meaningful content,
  • The share-worthiness of content that offers “utility purpose,”
  • Increased consumer expectations that brands must address social issues,
  • And consumer acceptance of brands talking about the good work they do.”

Create A Marketing Plan With Purpose

In working with artists to create a marketing plan that is personalized to their music and where they are at in their musical career, I think all of these “outbound” marketing reasons around social media effectiveness are great. But there are also very clear practical reasons to be clear about your Purpose before launching into the frenzy of ANY PR, promotion, or marketing of any kind for your newest release, for a single, or for your music video.

To be clear, this post is NOT about Purpose in a religious sense, although that may be related for some people. It is, however, all about something transcendent. Also, I will note up front that I am very aware that the items I am talking about spell POT. OK, enough 9th (6th?) grade jokes.

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Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 3.51.13 PM

[Watch me talk about this post with Michael Brandvold on the Music Biz Weekly Episode 195 on YouTube here or listen to it on Soundcloud here.]

YouTube is the number one search engine for music, so having at least one or two music videos up there seems like a no brainer, check-the-box item for an indie musician.

And once in a while, a music video from an unknown artist goes viral, giving them a huge boost in visibility.

As indie artists, we all feel the pressure to produce a stellar music video (or two), and we look with no small amount of envy at those artists who seem to get discovered overnight via their viral music video. But how is it done? Can you make a music video that is more likely to go viral?

I’m less interested in the viral videos by popular stars like Taylor Swift (Bad Blood) or Sia (Elastic Heart, Big Girls Cry), because those are undoubtedly supported by large online marketing efforts. I’m more interested in music videos made by relatively unknown artists with small to zero marketing budgets which nonetheless seem to have caught on and propelled those musicians’ careers forward in a significant way.

So let’s look at three recent examples.

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posted by on Interviews, Marketing, Music, Social Media

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GrantMaloySmithHeadshot

Grant Maloy Smith is an Americana indie artist who lives in Rhode Island. I first met him as a member of the online indie Grammy®  community this past fall. I was impressed with how he seemed to know everyone. Online pictures of him kept popping up collaborating with other musicians I knew, like Jody Quine and Ricky Kej/Wouter Kellerman, performing live or playing on their songs in the studio. For a guy based on the East Coast, he sure seemed to show up at LA recording sessions a lot!

I finally met Grant in person in February of this year at The Soiree, a showcase of indie Grammy artists at the House of Blues in LA, where he and I played backup for one of our mutual friends, nominee Paul Avgerinos. Grant was just as much fun in person as he is online.

I’m always interested in artists who

  1. Write and perform their own original music
  2. Collaborate with other artists often and outside both their own genre and immediate geographical area
  3. Have retained a sense of humor, and more importantly, a sense of purpose and vision for their music, in an industry that seems very opaque and anonymous
  4. Have had careers in other fields, where they have acquired strong business and social skills which they apply to their music careers
  5. Have over ten thousand Twitter followers

I think you’ll enjoy this interview with Grant, and learn some practical tips as well.

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posted by on Interviews, Music, Social Media

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SXSWLogo2015

 

Since I’m not attending SXSW myself this year, I thought I’d bring you a real life, in the trenches, on the road, slice of life post about three female artists I met through Madalyn Sklar’s GoGirlsElite and #ggchat.  I’ve met two of them In Real Life, and have watched  two of them perform on ConcertWindow – which feels almost like IRL I’ve read their blog posts and listened to their music, and they are all such positive and energetic women, doing all the right things to market themselves in this crowded place we call indie music.

Meet Rorie Kelly, Mary Bue and Alex Winters. [Full disclosure, Mary Bue is a music marketing client of mine, but Rorie and Alex are not. All three women are also being represented by my friend Stacey Sherman of RSP Entertainment Marketing while they are at SXSW.]

These three talented musicians got together (completely unbeknownst to me) and booked themselves an unofficial showcase gig tomorrow, Thursday March 19, 2015, at 8 PM at the Waterloo Ice House in South Park Meadows.

I love this story because:

  • It’s a bunch of women getting together to make their own gig happencommunity, not competition!
  • It’s social media at its best – helping people meet their business goals. Rorie, Mary and Alex met and got to know each other via the GoGirlsMusic network, which is a great virtual networking tool. The public Thursday Twitter chats at the hashtag #ggchat at 3 and 9 PM EST are well-attended by both male and female indie musicians and are always lively and informative. You’ll note below that they have some mutual male musician friends as well who are also frequent participants in the #ggchat Twitter chat, and helped encourage this group gig at SXSW.
  • They all have great stories in addition to great music. I know some good PR will come from this for some deserving indie artists just trying to get heard above all the SXSW noise.

On to the interview.

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posted by on Interviews, Marketing, Music

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Washington

I got an email recently from an MBA student at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business named Carl Petrillo, asking if he could interview me about my experience as a musician and an entrepreneur (a “musicpreneur”, as my friends Aaron Bethune and Tommy Darker call it.)

Carl is a musician, too, having worked as a pianist, singer, music director, and choral arranger. He also spent time on the cruise ship circuit before he decided to apply to business school. I suspect Carl has actually made more money in the music business than I have, but in an ironic reverse trajectory of my career path, Carl has decided to move from being a musician into the realm of MBA school. Carl remains active in music as the Vice President of Foster Talent, as well as on his own newly-created YouTube channel.

You can watch Carl perform his original song, Coming Along, on YouTube. Carl is a witty songwriter. [French Canadian saxophone players may not want to watch the music video, however.]

Carl interviewed me for a Foster School class called “Marketing 555: Entrepreneurial Marketing.” I kind of like that – Marketing 555. Sounds a bit like a band name. Anyway, I digress.

We met and Carl asked questions, I talked way too fast for an hour, and we did some follow-up by email, and now my thoughts on marketing my own music are enshrined on the Marketing 555 Blog. Ah, the internet. So here’s the first part of the interview and a link to the rest:

“For my interview of an entrepreneur this quarter, I decided to interview a local musician who, armed with an MBA and years of experience in the tech industry, is working to build her band’s brand from scratch. Today, Solveig Whittle is a music marketing consultant, teacher, and one half of the band Solveig & Stevie. I initially stumbled upon Solveig’s writing from an interview she did with musician Molly Lewis and was struck by the quality of the interview questions. Solveig was kind enough to sit down with me, and then follow up over email, to explain how she thinks about her own entrepreneurial venture as a musician.” – Carl Petrillo, MBA Candidate at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business

 [Read the rest of Carl’s interview with me here…]

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Paula Boggs

I first saw Paula Boggs perform at a local singer-songwriter hangout, the Soulfood Coffeehouse in Redmond, WA. She seemed totally comfortable on stage, despite the fact that she didn’t look or sound much like any of the other performers that night. It didn’t take more than a single Google search on my iPhone to turn up the fact that she was the former Corporate Counsel for Starbucks, along with having served on the Iran-Contra task force during the Reagan administration. I was intrigued.

I’m always interested in what draws someone with many talents and choices from the corporate world into music. I’ve said several times that learning the music business is harder than getting an MBA – even for someone with an MBA. Those of us who executed “Plan B” first, who had successful careers in other fields, might be tempted to find easier ways to fulfillment, like yoga or volunteering for the PTA. Or to simply look at our music as a hobby. You have to be pretty driven to stick with the music thing.

Paula is on her second  album release, coming this March, called “Carnival of Miracles”, so I guess she’s in it to stay.

Paula Boggs Ferris Wheel

Here is my interview with Paula Boggs. I think you’ll enjoy it.

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Success

Featured image by scottchan for freedigitalphotos.net

I began teaching a social media certificate class this month to 31 adults in downtown Seattle at the University of Washington’s Continuing Education Program. I’m really enjoying it – the students are enthusiastic and operating all at different levels of social media expertise and experience. Creating material for a three hour class on a weekly basis is no walk in the park, but I love it so far! It’s an exercise in visual, rigorous, accountable, consistent long form weekly content creation.

At the same time, I’ve also been working with some fabulous musicians as a marketing consultant, helping them develop their marketing plans, define their music career business goals, and then execute against those goals.

AND I’ve also been trying to keep up with the fast paced and ever changing worlds of both social media and music. Oh, and then there’s the new set of songs Stevie and I are working on for 2015 release.

I got to thinking a few weeks ago about how to distill down the things I see as vital for musicians – and any small business owner – to attend to as part of their social media for the coming year.

So here is what I would tell you to do in 2015 with your social media if you were my music marketing client:

  • Understand your primary social media business goals. Don’t jump into social media just because you feel you “need to be on social media.” Are you promoting a new album release, an event or tour? Is your primary goal to increase followers or Likes? Or are you trying to get the attention of bloggers, press or industry influencers? Are you trying to win a music contest or raise money via Kickstarter or Pledgemusic or some other platform? Is your goal to promote coupons or discounts to encourage fans to buy your music or merchandise directly from your website? Your goals will help determine both what social media channels to focus on, and what kinds of activities (posts) to engage in. Set some reasonable, concrete, realistic, numerical social media goals for 6 months and for a year from now – goals with numbers and a timeline. It’s easy to get lost, sidetracked and overwhelmed in social media. If you’re not aiming at something, you won’t know if you’ve succeeded.
  • Know who your target market is. What are the basic demographics (age, sex, location, artists they like) for your super fans? If you don’t have a big fan base, research the demographics of bands you consider your competition. I also wrote a blog post on identifying your super fan that includes some great online research tools.

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Margaret Bonus CD Cover

As 2014 winds down, I find myself both excited and bemused to write a final music marketing blog about a Seattle indie artist I first met a few years ago. His newest project, Margaret, hot off the press this month, impresses me both musically as well as promotionally (although I hesitate to use that word, and he would probably cringe at it, too). One of the things that characterizes this artist is a fierce allegiance to the creative much more so than the commercial, but perhaps that is a large part of what makes this music project such a great example to discuss.

Watching the way the marketing and promotion of this album has unfolded since I first heard about the project in April of this year has taught me a lot, and I hope you take something from my analysis.

Good music and creativity are at the heart of successful music marketing. I have never seen that embodied so clearly. The marketing is important, and executing well is important, but without good music, marketing only takes you so far.  First and foremost, I believe that what drove Jason’s project was making good music that was meaningful to him.

What is good music? Ah well, that is a subjective thing. All I can say is, I know it when I hear it. And I know when I don’t. And so do you, and so do fans. Marketing is just the icing – it doesn’t disguise a bad cake, but it sure makes a good one taste better. Now, it is true that music is subjective, and there are many tastes, many genres, and many niches. However, some music is just well written and well-performed, and even if you don’t like the genre, you can appreciate the musicianship. Most importantly, good music moves the audience emotionally. Passion, combined with creativity and craft, make art that is magical.

The second most important thing to get from this article is that being flexible and listening to what your fans want from you will go a long way. If you start with a great live performance, and then get a clear message from your fans to release a CD, do what they say and they will buy it.

There’s a bit more to what Jason did with this project, however, so I’ve outlined below the 10 elements I think were most effective at propelling the project forward at such speed and with such success.

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Ricky Key and Wouter Kellerman

In fall of 2014, I interviewed New Age artists Ricky Kej and Wouter Kellerman about how they marketed their newest collaboration, Winds of Samsara. The album debuted in July at No. 1 on the Billboard New Age Chart, and then spent the following 12 weeks in the Top 10.

****** UPDATE!! February 8, 2015 – Kellerman and Kej WON a Grammy for Best New Age Album at the 57th Grammys. Congratulations! It couldn’t have gone to two nicer musicians and a harder working team. ******

Ricky, Wouter and their team are a hybrid indie artist marketing model: neither the artist nor the label does 100% of the marketing. Most of the marketing strategy, however, is planned and driven by the artists and their managers, with similarities to how Macklemore (Ben Haggerty), Ryan Lewis and Zach Quillen drove the charting success of The Heist in 2013.

Ricky and Wouter signed this project with a label, but they recognized from the start that their label wasn’t going to do everything needed to promote the album. The artists themselves needed to pitch in, especially with social media promotion. That is the powerful story here – all the incredible networking and promotion this team did for the album, in addition to using key industry resources at their label to help strategically promote the album in distribution and on the radio.

I’ve seen first hand on social media how Ricky, his wife Varsha Kej, Wouter, and Wouter’s manager, Tholsi Pillay, persistently promote Winds of Samsara. All four fluidly mix the creative with business. In addition to being Wouter’s manager, Tholsi played keyboards and synth on the album, and Varsha is Ricky’s manager as well as a sitar player. 

I wanted to hear more about how this marketing dynamo planned and executed their marketing, and what has gone into debuting and maintaining Winds of Samsara’s Billboard chart status over the past weeks and months. I also wanted to know what kind of promotional team they have behind them (distributor, PR, etc.)

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