Get Shouty

…til someone loses an eye
December 18, 2006, 6:38 am
Filed under: Digital Strategy

One of my most memorable job interviews happened when I once spoke to the biggest record company in the country. In 1995 I’d been Label Managing for a couple years and doing licensing and A&R across three continents by using email and the Internet. I was terribly excited about what this technology meant for the music industry.

I was asked where I saw myself in 5 years, and this is where I got myself into big trouble. I said that I would be in a job that doesn’t exist now. I said that I believed that we were in a time similar to candle makers after the invention of electricity. That what people want is light, not pieces of wax,  and we needed to move with the times. I said that our ability to mobilise the fans and have them as part of our business was a huge opportunity. That with the gap between the fan and the artist narrowing we needed to redefine ourselves.

 The national head of promotion did one of the best beetroot impersonations I’ve ever seen. He stood up so fast he knocked his chair clean over. Leaning as far as he could over the boardroom table he screamed at me: “Radio is king in this country and it always will be”. I assumed that the interview, and that my chance to work with the big guys, was over.

One of the other managers rang me before I got too slaughtered at the pub. He knew that tracking and activating fans, advocates, would significantly reduce his ad budget and get around short sighted Programming Directors who would not take a chance on a band without a track record. I started the next day.

This was all brought top of mind when I was reading Matt Dyke’s post Learning from the Music Industry:

Target a strong core of ambassadors
Use ambassadors to promote your music
Utilise social recommendation
Embrace (rather than ignore) file sharing

I agree that advertising can learn a lot from the music industry- from its failures as well as its successes. The fundamental reason for being for the Music Industry now has to be to help artists find their audience, to niche market on a global scale, to help artists bring their experience to their audience and to maximise the revenue to the artist.

Exchange brand with artist and you have a good launching pad for reinvention.


5 Comments so far
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This is why I love music marketing, because when you think about it, the artist and their fans are part of the same community that love the same music. Their wants and needs are perfectly aligned, since they are all members of the same community. That’s why its so easy for bands and their fans to develop such a tight bond.

This should be the goal for all marketers, to move their company into the same community as their customers. Willie Davidson, the son of the co-founder of Harley-Davidson says that he conducts ‘market research’ by riding with his customers every weekend.

When you join the community you serve, your wants and needs become those of the community, so as long as you satisfy the community’s wants and needs, yours are satisfied as well!

BTW not sure if you are familiar with the Canadian music label Nettwerk, but I did an interview a few weeks ago with their CEO, Terry McBride, and back in January with their Marketing Director, Erin Kinghorn. Check them out as they are one of the very few labels that truly understand what community empowerment is all about.

Comment by Mack Collier

Are you saying that you are one-eyed about the music industry (sorry couldn’t resist)?

I love the way the music industry continues to beat its head against its fan bases. I am fascinated by the way the Recording Industry prosecutes parents and kids for downloading music then turns around and advertises its latest offerings in time for Christmas.

Just like, in brand-land, where the reinvention seems to be occurring around planning and strategy with small agencies operating variously as cogs and hubs, perhaps the Labels of the future will work in the same way … with a mishmash of artists, fanbassadors and marketers working together.

Does anyone smell burning plastic?

Comment by Gavin Heaton

Thanks for the input guys:
Mack: I think it’s easier for bands and fans to develop a tight bond when there is the immediacy of a gig and the presence of that community you mention. Working in Australia meant that I had to work on a lot of artists that had no presence in the music scene here.

The trick was always to find that community and in some cases, create that community.

One in particular that comes to mind is Shawn Colvin, I loved “Sunny Came Home” but couldn’t get it on a playlist for love or money. Instead I seeded it to a database of female tastemakers: publicists, hairdressers, magazine types- lovely chatty girls who I thought not only would respond to the music but also wouldn’t be able to resist sharing it.

By the time the album got the Grammy the Programming Directors had already had to put the single into rotation.

Thanks for the heads up on Nettwerk- I’ll be sure to check out your interview.

Gavin: I think that I was trying to say that the ad industry and the music industry both have the same ‘fun and games’ and are both dinosaurs that need to change as the metor hits. The smell of burning plastic is sweet.

Comment by katiechatfield

“Exchange brand with artist and you have a good launching pad for reinvention.”

This post was well worth losing an eye to read.

Wonderful lesson – thanks for includig us Iowa boys in the conversation.

Keep creating, Mike

Comment by Michael Wagner

[…] How brand communicators can learn from the music industry – h/t and further discussion at Get Shouty. […]

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