Musician, author, lecturer and man of 10+ skills, Martin Atkins gave a presentation tonight on modern music promotion. Here are some highlights:
Free is the New Black
Use free music to generate revenue in other ways. He briefly mentioned Radiohead's pay what you feel campaign for In Rainbows but stated that was now antiquated (amazing how fast the industry has changed). Rather he used the example of Prince giving away a free copy of his new album in a UK tabloid that resulted in a string of sold out shows at London's O2 arena. Another analogy could be Nine Inch Nails giving away their Ghosts album for free but providing a premium package that netted Reznor 750k in a day.
Have a Strategy
You should always have a strategy in anything that you do. One example that he used to bring the point home was a map of the United States and on it were the locations of the top 100 markets in the United States. If you draw a line roughly between Minneapolis and Austin, 85 of those markets are to the east where 15 are to the west. The idea behind it was that bands can make irrational touring decisions by failing to plan a tour that is both economical and reaches burgeoning fan bases. (see analytics below)
Brick by Brick
Everything you do to promote and improve yourself as an artist adds allows you to build your brand and eventually brick by brick you will be able to build something great. He mentioned looking at the Great Wall and marveling at its construction but then realizing it was built one brick at a time. Martin emphasized constantly working and making connections even if its only one or two people per show because over time it adds up. Having 10,000 fans is only a multiple of interacting with small groups and individuals.
This wasn't really about creating original music as it was creating original ways to sell and promote it. He used some of the following examples:
Martin demoed YouTube's analytics capabilities by showing visitor locations and level of attention. He argued that you should use analytics tools that give geographical data in order to find out where your fans are located and that you should use YouTube's hot spot feature to see where attention drops off during your videos and edit content appropriately.
Music is ...
"A 28 hour a day, 9 nine day a week, 58 weeks per year commitment"
Oh and there's an asterisk
"If your songs suck, you don't practice and your live show sucks, forget any of the above."
What I wanted to hear:
I thought it was a great lecture but the only thing that was missing was any discussion of online promotion. He alluded to the demise of Myspace but he didn't really mention alternative online promotion strategies. For a while there every band had a Myspace and you had to be on there for better or worse but with Facebook stealing users, bands have to find new ways develop fans and Facebook's page application is useful (aka analytics) but doesn't compare to Myspace. He did mention he had 60+ slides he didn't cover and I could have probably gotten into a long winded discussion with him if I wasn't so pre-occupied with who was winning Game 6.