Every day I interface with a great many people involved in producing music on many levels. Some are seasoned veterans still in the game, while others are just starting out or emerging on the crest of the wave that will boost them to the next rung up the ladder to success.
Each and every musician and band is on a level playing field with the demise of major labels. No matter the level of achievement, with every project, the artist is largely at the mercy of their fans to decide whether the music resonates with a broad audience. It’s difficult for an artist to be objective about their work, therefore they need to rely on the opinions of those around them to be truthful about whether or not the work will stand out in the current marketplace. When the feedback from many corners indicates there is value in the product, hard and fast policies about marketing, budgets, and projections need close examination.
With a strong consensus the product will stand out and outweigh competition in the market, that is the signal to break hard and fast rules about spending marketing dollars and move the product to a store front fans and consumers are well aware of.
In the current economy nearly everyone has decided they will not exercise a marketing budget, but will rely solely on Internet marketing to their fan base, current contacts, and the contacts of gatekeepers and influencers. If you happen to be tight with producers at NPR and sit back and entrust a project to those apronstrings, the odds are extremely high your efforts will fail regardless of the quality.
First and foremost the consumer does not trust gatekeepers any longer. The majority of influencers and gatekeepers in the music business continue to hold their influence over the head of the consumer, as if to say their validation of a project can still make or break a project. The consumer has grown resentful of haughty, snarky attitudes and turns away from industry consensus. The old boys club does not sell music.
The percentages of sales in the new model continually go back to the old platform measuring a 1% return. If you have 150,000 fans in an Internet model you can expect 1,500 actual sales based on that number. If you give away 1,000 free downloads, the net return will likely be 10 sales on a 1% ratio.
Marketing is not one-dimensional. Layer upon layer upon layer of information about a new musical offering must engage the consumer, particularly the discerning consumer. Putting a new release up on iTunes as well as other Internet retail outlets is not a strategy that ensures sales. More titles are lost in the sheer numbers these retailers catalog netting 0 sales for those who don’t employ marketing plans to enforce the broad reach these sites hold worldwide.
When you consider top-selling albums in the U.S. that reach 1,000,000 are marketed to 300,000,000 people with a great deal of money spent to reach that goal, you realize how high the stakes are and what it takes to get there.