Are You Down With the New, New Music Marketing?


I'm currently reading a book by Seth Godin called Meatball Sundae. I highly recommend it if you want to really understand the new media landscape. In it he makes the case for why new media does not work for old style companies. Most of them are pretty much screwed.

The differences between old and new marketing outlined below are straight out of this book. He compares the features of old and new marketing. I believe that few areas of business are more susceptible to new marketing than the music industry. Music has always been that canary in the goldmine. Several decades ago, it was early in adopting new technology and now it's the first to get screwed by new technology. How funny is that? Clive Davis and Jimmy Iovine, eat your hearts out, you blind bats. Shoulda 'seen it coming.

Limited number of media outlets
Limited physical retail outlets
Emphasis on horizontal success (hits)
Marketer-to-consumer communication
communication Barrier between consumer and makers
Spam Product line limited by factory
Long product cycles
Market share Features
Advertising a major expense
Large overhead = stability
Customer support Focus groups

Countless media outlets
Countless online retail outlets
Emphasis on vertical success (niches)
Permeability between consumers and makers
Permission Product line limited by imagination
Fads Fashion Stories
Innovation a major expense
Small overhead = low risk
Community support
Launch and learn

Here are brief examples of what each of the new marketing trends means to you, the indie music artist.

Countless media outlets MySpace, Twitter, Imeem, Reverbnation; with friends like these it's impossible to be scarce. That's a good thing.

Countless online retail outlets Instead of getting that record deal with Universal so you can get your CD on shelves, now you have a ton of choices like amiestreet, iTunes, etc and you get to do it all yourself. Effort is one of the main gatekeepers of music 2.0.

Emphasis on vertical success It's personal now. You make music for your tribe above all else. It's about the personal connection as much as it is about the melody.

Consumer to consumer communication Once your music's out, its success is large out of your control.

Permeability between consumers and maker A & R Rep? What the hell's that?

Permission The fan now comes to you instead of you going to him. The fan now has the power. You better have a damn good product for him or he will not let you into his world.

Product line limited by the imagination Shelf space is old school. Plastic is dead. The mind and software are the limits.

Fads For musicians, is Twitter hotter than MySpace? Maybe soon enough … or something like it.

Fashion There's room for everyone. You just need to be unique to stand out a bit, along with a bit of luck. People want the guy who's different. Susan Boyle is.

Stories Blog. But do not just blog because everyone else is doing. Do it well … damn well. Otherwise you'll just be annoying an idiot with a keyboard and I do not want to know you. Use your story to build a brand.

Innovation a major expense Major startup capital is out. Time and innovation are the new startup capital. Social media is not free. It costs time. But it's worth it, if you care enough.

Small overhead = low risk It also means lower barriers of entry and lots of poor quality music floating around. Be great and stand out.

Community support Keep your fans talking. They're everything. You exist for them, not the other way around.

Launch and learn Ignore the naysayers baby. Just do it!


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