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August 10, 2011 / jasonpinto

Stealing Inspiration From the Music Industry

Music, rocking out

There is no doubt that the  music industry has experienced some tremendous lows changes over the past decade. Rolling Stone seems to report monthly on new milestones that are seemingly quite negative: “lowest sales ever for a #1 album”, “high number of cancelled concerts and tours”, etc.

Yes, technology has certainly changed how people find, listen, acquire and experience music. As a result, the high numbers that bands and promoters experienced across traditional categories in the past may never be reached again.

Very similar situations are being felt in other industries. Certainly, print is one of those.

But many in the music industry have not given up on trying to find new and better ways to drive revenue. Here are three recent stories from the music world that I believe could inspire those who are looking to grow business in an industry that may not be as successful as it once was.

#1: Music Festivals: Sharing Content In Real-Time

This year, a number of large music festivals have embraced the power of social networks to help them reach an audience that greatly exceeds the number of people who actually attend their event.

In some cases, they’ve broadcast performances live in real-time. Lollapalooza worked with YouTube to promote and broadcast its bands and set-times so that millions of people around the world could tune in.

And while this was not a live broadcast (I don’t believe so, at least) NPR posted recordings of all performances at the recent Newport Folk Festival. (Even though I was not at the show, I read tweets and blogs that talked about which bands had delivered amazing sets. Hours after the festival ended, I was able to listen to those performances myself. Not only has this increased my desire to attend next year’s festival, but I also purchased albums from 3 of the bands that played sets this year.)

Inspiration to Steal: Find ways to give our content and events longer legs!

For example, even if our CEO is speaking in small room to a group of 15 people, technology has made it very easy for us all to broadcast that presentation to the world in real-time. At the very least, we can record it and put portions on YouTube, on our blog, in our social networking channels, etc. shortly after the speech ends.

If we are attending a conference, find out what the official hashtag is and participate in it! Even if there are thousands of people there, there’s a whole other audience that may benefit from the information that you’re learning there. Not only may they appreciate the content, but it may certainly cause them to view you as a helpful thought-leader in your industry.

#2: Bands Experimenting with Distribution Methods

Jay-Z and Kanye West are currently in the midst of releasing their Watch the Throne album in an unconventional way. In order to allow fans across the world to hear it together for the first time (and to create buzz and a lot of press), they decided to release the album exclusively through iTunes for the first few day.

While I do not yet know how many albums they will sell this week, the iTunes-only approach has succeeded in one major regard = it’s created awareness and generated publicity.

Inspiration to Steal: Find ways to develop partnerships with people and companies that can help you to reach a larger audience. (Of course, make it a mutually beneficial partnership!) This may lead to articles, blog posts, speaking engagements, etc. that introduce us to a new vertical, or to people that we simply did not have in our sights before.

Another way to be inspired here is to truly treat fans and followers on our social networks as special. Do we have a new white paper to release? Do we have news about a new product feature? By distributing that information to our social-savvy customers & prospects early on (perhaps exclusively for a little while), we will be demonstrating benefits to people for following or “liking” us in the first place. Also, we will increase the chances that our content spreads faster and farther as those folks start to tell others about it.

#3: Executing Multi-Channel Marketing Initiatives to Promote Albums, Videos, etc.

While the concept of a multi-channel campaign is not new, I think there’s been some great examples of bands that have done this lately.

One of them involved My Morning Jacket. Recently, they sought to promote their new video for the song Holding on to Black Metal. To do that, they turned to multiple marketing channels to get the word out.

For one, they used Google+. This actually did not drive a lot of traffic on its own (although it did turn into some publicity on Mashable). Now, if they had only released the video on Google+, that would have been a problem.

But they didn’t. Here are a few other efforts that also occurred in those first few hours after the video’s release:

  • They sent an email out to their mailing list
  • They promoted it on their Facebook page
  • They partnered with YouTube to create a Playlist, which was featured on the home page of YT(!)
  • Bloggers helped to promote it via their websites and Twitter accounts
Inspiration to Steal: This one is easy. Do not fall in love with one specific marketing channel. We must be willing to put in the effort to truly reach people across multiple channels. Yes, this requires work and coordination, but technology is making it easier than ever for companies of all sizes to do this.


Leave a Comment
  1. Ryan McAbee / Aug 18 2011 1:47 pm

    Hey Jason,

    Nice post! It is interesting how many marketing folks started in the music business — Mitch Joel to name one. I think there is a natural synergy between community and entertaining that overlaps well with marketing. More print med companies should listen and rock out your suggestions.

    – Ryan McAbee | @mbossed

  2. jasonpinto / Aug 18 2011 6:16 pm

    Thanks very much for the comment. I did not know that fact about Mitch Joel — but I’m reading about it right now!

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