Tumblelog by Soup.io
Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

August 02 2011

21:21

5 lessons Lady Gaga can teach the news industry about community building

The original article headline is: "5 Things Lady Gaga Can Teach Marketers About Community Building", but why should journalists and news outlets not profit from the findings as well ...

FastCompany :: Building communities all starts with finding a common thread that brings people together. Experiences help define or typify what a community is all about. A community can be extremely close knit, yet very different when looked at on an individual level. But the commonality is that every community has a soul, and to tap into its soul in a meaningful way unlocks all its secrets. Louis Marino, the author of this article, worked extensively in the music industry. He learned an awful lot about musicians. No, not their hard-living lifestyles and jaw-dropping spending habits. Marino: "I’m talking about their incredible sense of community and loyalty.

Continue to read Louis Marino, expert blogger, www.fastcompany.com

October 14 2010

17:28

10 Truths About the Modern Music Business

I've been covering the digital music business for MediaShift for more than 18 months, and in that time I've chronicled new services and examined key trends and news. Below is a look at 10 things that I've come to believe are true about the modern music business.

1. The "DIY Revolution" has Been Relatively Ineffective

Although going it on your own was all the rage in 2009, reality has shown that the majority of artists still need a team around them to reach any substantial level of awareness, sales, and revenue. However, this team doesn't necessarily need to resemble the traditional record label department structure. For many artists, surrounding themselves with a few tech-savvy friends and some seed money can generate the momentum necessary to fuel a moderate indie career. To reach far and wide enough to live off of one's art, the task list is simply too long to tackle alone. In reality, DIY can work just fine if you modernize the traditional definition of the term.

2. Tech Can Replace/Enhance Some Functions

Technology has removed many barriers and allowed almost anyone to play the game. It has also removed the need for some of the team members that have always been needed. Recording, mixing and mastering music can be done faster and cheaper than ever before. Distributing the output digitally is near instant and inexpensive. Anyone can create digital tools that collect email addresses, stream music, sell tickets, and engage with fans. Just remember that with technology, "build it and they will come" is pure fantasy.

3. Direct-to-Fan is Valuable When Executed Properly

Even with all the hype, direct-to-fan (D2F) has proven itself as a valuable strategy when implemented correctly. D2F, when viewed as a set of best practices, can supplement list Screen shot 2010-10-13 at 9.58.02 PM.pnggrowth, sell high-margin offerings, and give artists a chance to engage their biggest supporters in innovative ways. However, the idea that D2F is simply creating a Topspin account and building a splash page is a myth -- proper D2F involves content and offer curation, a well-planned timeline, some existing reach, and savvy marketing both online and off.

4. The Aggregator Market Has Solidified

Very little has changed in this area over the past couple years. With a few clear leaders emerging, artists have no problem getting their content to the marketplace. Other than some simple distinguishing features, most digital aggregators provide an identical core service: Get your music on iTunes, Amazon, and many other digital storefronts. Tunecore, CDBaby, IODA, Reverbnation, and a few others have effectively cornered the market.

5. Marketing Tools Have Diversified

The emergence of multiple tiers of artists has also allowed products to follow suit. Companies that offer similar products are finding their own market niches by catering to specific classes of artists (hobbyist, middle-class, established, legacy, etc.). The distinction between services is often based on feature sets, and that typically correlates to price. We'll see this trend continue as the tiers further solidify and the realities of what different artists can spend (and need) come to light.

6. Facebook Gaining on Email

Traditionally, email has been the Holy Grail of communicating with fans, but as social media and SMS adoption grows, Facebook and text messages are giving email serious competition. Many bands are turning to Facebook as their core communication channel; for many types of audiences this makes perfect sense -- Facebook allows for standard communication but also offers sales, research, and data collection opportunities in one location. By owning the entire ecosystem, Facebook makes the call-to-action process much simpler.

7. The Official Site is Critical (Again)

I'd argue this has always held true, but most artists in most genres have begun to truly grasp the importance of an official site. Official sites allow levels of control that are unrivaled by any other platform. Artists can have full control over sales, data capture, and fan engagement on their own site, whereas other platforms such as MySpace and Facebook have limitations in these areas. However, some artists are keeping it simple and can implement those core functions on even the most simple of platforms; the benefit here is little to no cost and minimal administration and maintenance. The right strategy is to understand the value of different platforms, and find the right mix based on audience and needs.

8. Physical Fulfillment is Still a Logistical Puzzle

The hardest logistical part of running an artist's business is physical fulfillment. This is an area that has always been tough and it's only become marginally easier through new services and technology. There are a number of ways to fulfill physical goods -- do it yourself, find willing partners, use an established fulfillment house, or sign a formal distribution deal. These each have their pros and cons, but ultimately it comes down to the complexity of the offerings and the quantity of business a band is doing. No matter what method, someone must be managing the process at all times; with so many moving parts (manufacturing, delivery, shipping, stock levels, customer service, etc.) fulfillment management can be a full-time job.

9. The Value of Mobile and Apps is Still Cloudy

The music space in mobile is still somewhat like the Wild West. Their are certain sectors Screen shot 2010-10-13 at 9.59.56 PM.pngthat are entering adulthood -- SMS marketing for example, where Mozes has become the clear leader. However, other areas are far from fully formed. Music apps for mobile phones are plentiful, but they rarely generate acceptable levels of revenue. One thing has become clear -- for almost all artists, charging for a music app is the wrong business model; give it away for free and utilize in-app purchases.

10. Monitoring Tools: A Race to The Top

There is no excuse to not know what events and metrics surround an artist or release. There are so many analytics platforms that the challenge is figuring out exactly which data is important to the current state of a project, and then finding the easiest way to aggregate the information. Check out RockDex, Next Big Sound, BandMetrics, Radian6, and BuzzDeck to see the range of platforms and services. Although they cater to different audiences, they are all racing to determine the ultimate set of useful data and develop the most effective ways of interpreting and displaying it. The real challenge is then telling the user what to do next.

*****

What truths have you discovered about the modern music business? Please share them in the comments.

Jason Feinberg is vice president, direct to consumer marketing for Concord Music Group. He is responsible for digital and physical direct-to-fan solutions for CMG's frontline and catalog including the Rounder, Fantasy and Stax labels. Recent campaigns include Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, Ray Charles, Carole King/James Taylor, and Crowded House. Follow Jason on Twitter @otmg

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

February 05 2010

18:00

Rent vs. Own: The Streaming Music Debate Continues

The exponential growth of Internet bandwidth combined with the ability to significantly compress digital audio has impacted the music industry in numerous ways, for better and worse. Just as file trading created a massive network of pirated music, the ability to stream audio in real-time has allowed for a number of innovative content distribution and promotion methods.

napsterlogo.gifDigital music streaming services have been around for over a decade. Companies such as Rhapsody, Napster, MOG, and We7 have experimented with various business models and user experiences, with mixed results. The traditional streaming model was based on an all-you-can consume subscription offering, occasionally supplemented with a very limited amount of downloads. Adoption has rarely met expectations, and long-term sustainable profit has been elusive for most companies.

Now, a new wave of streaming services such as Spotify are emerging. Can they succeed where others have failed?

Changing Consumer Behavior

The lack of adoption of music steaming services has been attributed to a number of factors. First, a culture of ownership based on decades of purchasing physical media has locked many fans into a set way of thinking about music consumption. There are millions of music fans that correlate paying to owning, not just listening.

Then there is the illegal downloads issue. Convincing someone to pay to listen is difficult when they can freely own all the digital files they can find. Recent IFPI numbers estimate that 95 percent of all digital downloads are still illegal.

In addition to having to change consumer habits, logistics have also been an obstacle to user adoption of streaming services. For the majority of the past decade, most services were only available via a computer, thus limiting the number of settings and situations in which a subscriber could use the service. Most streaming platforms have now begun releasing iPhone and Blackberry apps, which adds portability into the equation. Until recently, devices were not able to capitalize on the functionality that these services offer, but thanks to 3G and WiFi networks, the bandwidth finally exists to take streaming music almost anywhere.

imeem.jpgSubscriptions are not the only business model being used to monetize streaming. A number of ad-supported platforms have come and gone, such as imeem, which was purchased by MySpace late 2009. Imeem and similar sites (including MySpace itself) attempted to use the traditional media advertising model: Provide content for free, but surround it with marketing messages. Typically, this took the form of banners, sponsored promotions, and in-stream audio advertising. This model has also proved difficult to sustain long-term, due to the fact that royalties and bandwidth costs often exceed advertising revenue.

The New Wave of Streaming Services

Currently leading the charge in ad-supported streaming is Spotify. It has combined peer-to-peer streaming technology with in-stream audio advertising. Advertisements also appear on the user interface, raising the likelihood of user engagement. For users who wish to use the streaming service without advertising, and to have the option for higher quality audio, Spotify offers subscriptions in various configurations.

Due to licensing issues, Spotify is only available in a handful of European countries. Founder Daniel Ek previously expressed a desire to open in the U.S. by the end of 2009, but did not succeed. As discussed in a recent article on paidContent.org, the barrier to expansion seems to be licensing concerns, one of which is that U.S.-based labels are no longer satisfied with ad-supported free services and are only looking at subscription models. The most recent numbers show Spotify has 250,000 paying subscribers, compared to a free user base of six million.

The Path to Profitability

Content is key to the success of a streaming site, but adoption is still the ultimate issue. If consumers are focused on owning content, be it physical or digital, paid or illegal, streaming services will continue to have a major uphill battle.

lefsetz.jpg

In a recent Bob Lefsetz article, he addressed this issue, providing a detailed look at the obstacles standing in the way of mass consumer adoption. He also looked at how other industries have used bundling and focused marketing efforts to influence consumer viewpoints on renting content versus owning. Lefsetz states in his opening sentence that, "The recorded music business must switch to subscription, it's its [sic] only hope of economic survival."

His rationale for this belief is that iTunes and other a la carte purchase options are a losing battle regarding long-term revenue. Selling music track-by-track may be better than illegal downloads -- but it's still a poor economic model. By removing value from the album format (and losing its higher price point), the music industry has allowed customers to spend very little money. This means the business requires a much higher number of transactions to be profitable.

Lefsetz argues that by requiring users to pay one amount for massive amounts of music -- essentially bundling content the way the cable companies do -- the music industry is able to charge a much larger amount of people a higher amount of money. In exchange, these customers get all the music they can consume, across any device they want to use. Instead of paying $10 for storing 10 tracks, they can pay the same amount and have access to millions of tracks.

The continually dropping cost of bandwidth and massive connectivity available has set the stage for a profitable model in subscription-based services. The biggest challenge is to now convince consumers this is the best method for experiencing music. This job falls to the streaming companies and to the labels and artists that license the music. It also requires that the technology continue to offer more and more choice and convenience. In addition, a massive number of free users must be shown the value of converting to paying for listening, through higher quality audio and an ad-free experience.

As with almost everything in the music industry, the optimal streaming business model is still being figured out, but the emerging success of companies such as Spotify is showing a growing level of consumer adoption.

Jason Feinberg is the president and founder of On Target Media Group, a music industry online marketing and promotion company. He is responsible for business development, formulation and management of online marketing campaigns, and media relations with over 1,000 websites and media outlets. The company has served clients including Warner Bros. Records, Universal Music Enterprises, EMI, Concord Music Group, Roadrunner Records, and others with an artist roster that includes Har Mar Superstar, Flipper, George Thorogood, Steve Vai, Robben Ford, Chick Corea, and many more. You can follow Jason on Twitter @otmg

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl