A special thanks to The Des Moines Register and Todd Ezren for the article about On Pitch, picking DSM over LA, and my career path. I’d also like to thank all of our clients over the years and of course, Hillary Brown and Zoey Miller for making On Pitch a success. Another special thank you to Amedeo Rossi and Zachary Mannheimer for their very kind words in the article. I’m very fortunate to work with these gentleman that are reshaping Des Moines. Read the feature and watch the video.
The music side of things at SXSW sometimes receives a bad rep. Sure, there’s more free Tito’s and Taco Bell afoot than is decent, but there’s some seriously awesome knowledge being thrown around the Austin Convention Center between 11am-6pm. Between working for On Pitch as a marketing guru since 2011 and staring my own farm festival this year, SXSW proved an amazing space for me to alter my conceptions about branding, social media marketing and the music industry itself. Below I’ve transcribed some of my SXSW panel experiences, highlighting key points from industry experts who have insight into what we’re doing right and what we need to work on as the industry continues to grow.
The NYTimes ran an article back in February citing the first increase in global sales for the music industry since 1999, and that energy was alive this year at SXSW. Between the new reign of Spotify and the rise of digital sales all around, the music industry is in good shape for the foreseeable future.
1) The Buyer and the Beat: Music Fans Could Spend Up to $2.6B Annually (if we pave the way and create content they want)
Nielsen, a leader in consumer-spending studies globally, sparked a great discussion in their panel “The Buyer and The Beat: The Music Fan and How to Reach Them” about how to get music fans to spend more money and what kind of content consumers are craving.
- For music, digital consumption is at an all-time high. In 2012, 1.3 billion digital tracks were sold, 37 billion music streams occurred and 161 million radio tracks were spun (the format that still exists as the #1 tool for music discovery for Americans).
- The main spending comes from three kinds of fans: 1) The Aficionado Fan - likes indie, buys music in the form of concert tickets, artist merchandise and online streaming services, spends about $400 a year on music. 2) The Digital Fan – searches for trends, active on social networks, likely to listen through Youtube, spends about $300 a year on music. 3) The Big Box Fan - emotionally connected with music, especially pop and country, likely to buy in-store or via Walmart, largely influenced by deals and sale prices, spends about $200 a year on music.
- Fans want content, and fans are different than consumers. Consumers maybe listen to Pandora once in awhile or check out the occasional concert, but fans want to become a part of the artists’ creative process and want a personal relationship with the product they’re buying.
- Crowd-funding projects like PledgeMusic work because fans want exclusive content. It’s the basic principle of “give something, get something.”
- Ideas for your artist or brand: signed CDs, signed vinyl, pre-order/exclusive access to album, liner notes, videos from inside the recording studio, streaming concerts online more frequently… the potential for further engagement is limitless.
2) Spotify: The streaming service that launched in 2006 is finally gaining the mainstream attention it deserves. Spotify is making it easy to legally consume media.
Spotify figured it out. Daniel Ek, founder and CEO, has dedicated the past six years to giving consumers a cheap, easy way to consume content, providing a convenient, important alternative to music piracy. In the panel, “Forbes 30 Under 30: Meet Spotify’s Daniel Ek,” we heard the ins and outs of Spotify from the man himself. Oh and also, if you haven’t yet, try the month of free premium. You’ll never turn back.
- We live in an age where the value of true artistry is being challenged. Ek feels as though true creative genius can still shine through in an age where everyone (your next-door neighbor, your little brother, your boss) can be a DJ or a photographer. Technology is only making creativity more accessible to the Average Joe, but that isn’t a bad thing. It helps true creativity shine.
- Spotify’s chief objectives are notable and noble: 1) They strive to get everyone on the face of the planet more music. 2) They want to create a stronger music eco-system where artists can make a decent living.
- Most music consumers and people aren’t inherently stealthy. Not many fans go out and think “Oh man, I’d love to steal stuff off the internet today.” Often times torrenting or downloading an illegal zip is faster and more accessible than logging into something like iTunes or Amazon, so consumers take the shortcut and resort to piracy because it’s simpler. Spotify offers a legal counter to that problem by offering free on-demand streaming.
- 1/2 billion people are listening to music online, 6 million people are paying to use Spotify, 30-35 million people are iTunes users.
- The goal of Spotify shouldn’t be to convert all 25 million Spotify users to paid members. The goal should be to convert 1.5 billion using piracy services to listen legally.
- Ek also shared some pretty cool stories about being handed a guitar at age 4 and a computer at age 5. The rest is history.
3) Girls & Tech: As technology is becoming more and more accessible to a younger demographic, a new generation of taste-makers and marketers are cropping up organically.
Think about the young girls in your life. They are on Twitter, they are on Tumblr, they are on Instagram. These girls love music with an intense passion. They push out content about these passions on their social media platforms, which are all at their fingertips. The panel, “Girls and Tech: Why Young Women Rule in Music,” explained a little more about this phenomena and what it means for the industry.
- As brand experts, marketers and the like, we need to start taking young girls more seriously because they have market-influence on primary social media platforms.
- Girls themselves are becoming excellent content creators. They are marketing inherently with their passion and constant output of content. They’re not even trying, but they’re doing an awesome job.
- How can you use this demographic to your advantage while still holding them to a high regard? Give them exclusive access to an event. Let them take photos and make gifs. Do a Twitter contest and let them in the photo pit for the first three songs. For the right artist, it could be amazing.
- Community managers must use an authentic, passionate voice to connect with this specific audience. Find out where these girls are and how they relate to your brand, but don’t fake it. Be authentic and passionate, and rise to meet them on their level.
4) Music Festivals: There’s a new eco-system of music festivals in America, which provides a great revenue potential for the industry (if we attune ourselves to the demands our markets and cultivate a unique brand experience).
What makes your event special? Are you charting your sales effectively? Do you know how your attendees are herding and moving in and out during your event? At “Music Festivals: The Real Deal from the Experts,” some insight was given into these pertinent questions.
- RFID technology can be extremely useful and could be worth way more than the money you’ll save on barcodes with its potential for data. It’s essentially just a chip in the wristband (you’ve seen them at Bonnaroo, Coachella and other major festivals), but there’s a wide variety of benefits. 1) They’re hard to rip off or duplicate. 2) As a festival organizer, you can add information onto the chip, so you know exactly where the wristband has been and how it may have fallen into someone’s hands or why difficulties may be arising with a particular band. 3) You can attain data, which applies to staffing, security and police (among other areas), which is another place to find cost savings. Too expensive? Have a sponsor underwrite that specific line item and enjoy the benefits of increased data.
- Marketing for festival starts with a brand, idea, feel. The schedule comes next. Then announcements, news items and general hype-building.
- Fan experience and safety should always be the number one priority of a festival organizer. Bottom line.
- Work toward attaining partnerships with businesses and people who will personally invest in your project. Don’t settle for traditional marketing strategies. Let people spread the word rather than lifeless newsprint pages (which seems to be true, at least for some festival demographics).
- Make attainable goals and set milestones for yourself to make sure you’re on track. Keep organized in something like Google Drive and keep track of all your media releases and blasts so you can coordinate with sales later.
- Stay true to yourself. If you’re a small festival with huge success, don’t jump the gun and up your capacity by 10,000. Fans probably like the experience they had for a reason, and you don’t need to be huge to make more money. Up your ticket prices instead, up the quality of your experience. An example given: Prada. Prada built a brand of exclusivity and their products are worth a lot because not every bag or product is mass-produced. Ponder the idea of a boutique festival with that mentality and go from there. If that’s not your thing, figure out what exactly is.
- Festivals are more than just bands on a stage. It’s about the experience you’re creating. Create something worthwhile.
Zoey Miller has been working for On Pitch since the summer of 2011. Active in the Iowa music scene, Zoey acts as Director of Marketing for SCOPE Productions, the University of Iowa’s independent concert promotion and production organization, and has been a marketing volunteer for 80/35 for the past two years.
- If you’re a college student with a passion for marketing in the entertainment industry, apply for an internship with us! On Pitch interns assist on marketing and public relations projects for music festivals, theater productions, arts & culture non-profits, music venues, bands, and small businesses. This includes fun stuff like:
- Press and blogger outreach
- Promotional campaign support
- Street team management
- Creative brainstorming sessions
- Research projects
- Online marketing efforts
- Event planning
- Writing assignments (press releases, blog posts, e-newsletters, web content)
- Social media pushes
The perfect candidates will posses the below qualities. Apply if this sounds like you:
- Some marketing internship experience under your belt
- Marketing, communications, public relations, or advertising majors preferred
- Writing and communications superstar
- Proactive, energetic go-getter
- Passionate about music and entertainment
- Fan of process and organization
- Very detailed oriented (at the brink of being annoying to friends)
- Not afraid to ask questions – we want you to learn!
- Ability to work independently
- Personable and social – we want to enjoy talking to you!
We’re looking for an intern to start in February/March and continue until July/August, but we can be flexible on start and end dates. Please send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you!
A special thanks to DSM Magazine, Chad Taylor (writer), and Dan McClanahan (photographer) for the “Music Makers” feature on 80/35, On Pitch, Greater Des Moines Music Coalition, and The Poison Control Center!
If you’ve lived in Des Moines during the past five years and have somehow managed to completely avoid the 80/35 music festival, I don’t even know what to do with you. 80/35 (July 6–7 at Western Gateway Park) has quickly built a national reputation, drawing acts from across the country, and has helped put the capital city on the musical map. Read more.
Read more about the awesome portraits Dan created for the article in this blog post.
Hello! My name is Mary-Kate Burkert, and I am the newest member of the On Pitch team. I am a Des Moines native currently attending Iowa State University and working towards a journalism and mass communication major with an emphasis in public relations and an event management minor. I am eager to use my experiences and knowledge to increase musical awareness in the 515 area.
My passion for the PR field really took off my freshman year of college and has amplified ever since. I dove into both on and off-campus leadership roles pertaining to my academic interests. I have thoroughly enjoyed being on Dance Marathon’s public relations committee and being PR executive chair for both Blood Drive 2012 and Homecoming Central. I have gained experience working solo and with a team as a student ambassador for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and as a news reporter for the Iowa State Daily. I give credit to the Greek Relations Executive Council for strengthening my writing abilities with our monthly publication of Letters-a magazine, intended to update the entire Greek community at Iowa State.
Looking to the future, I hope my experiences this summer with On Pitch will enhance my confidence in carrying out any and all public relations, marketing and social media assignments necessary to guarantee success. I am looking forward to benefitting the city I hold closest to my heart and am excited to learn about the ever-evolving music scene. Soaking up wisdom from Jill and Hillary will definitely make for a fun-filled and educational summer!
Feel free to connect with me on social media (I love meeting new people):
One organization that fits the definition of ambitious people working on passionate projects is the Des Moines Social Club. We are excited to announce that On Pitch will be working with them on their marketing and public relations efforts in 2012. They have big plans for the year as they work towards securing a permanent home and continue their dynamic programming. Where else can you watch a play, drink a beer, buy local art, compete in trivia, perform, play ping pong, see a live talk show, laugh at improv, hear a concern, and network — all under one roof?
We look forward to working with the talented and motivated people at the Des Moines Social Club as they foster an environment that cultivates creativity, community and culture right here in the heart of Des Moines.
Learn more about the Des Moines Social Club at http://www.desmoinessocicalclub.org.
We are looking forward to the Crossroads Entertainment Conference this Thursday and Friday in downtown Des Moines. The purpose of the event is to educate, connect and showcase the work of the Upper Midwest’s entertainment industry. Musicians, visual and performance artist, film makers, entertainment entrepreneurs, food and beverage masters and industries that support creativity all come together at Crossroads. The 2011 event “Challenge Drives Change” will feature two days of professional development seminars highlighting models and skills that have helped organizations triumph in challenging times.
We will both be moderating panels at Crossroads this year and are looking forward to attending other seminars and checking out the bands at the showcase. Below is an overview of the happenings. Hope to see you there!
Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country
Thursday, Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. at the 4th Street Theatre (216 Fourth Street)
Hillary moderated this panel at the 2011 SXSW and now gets to share it at the Crossroads Conference. While artists and music professionals continue to flock to large, entertainment-saturated cities like L.A., New York, and Nashville to chase their dreams, some are seizing opportunities right in their own backyards. In today’s music industry, it’s possible to land a thriving music career in flyover country if you’re willing to carve your own path. Explore techniques to expand your reach, and learn how to leverage opportunities in any region.
Making Money in the Music Industry
Thursday, Nov. 10 at 2:30 p.m. at the 4th Street Theatre (216 Fourth Street)
Jill will be moderating this panel on how artists, bands, and labels can leverage the new business model to make money. Various strategies will be discussed including creative product offerings, providing merch options for multiple levels of fans, finding success with crowdfunding, garnering worthwhile sponsorships, developing licensing opportunities, and more.
Other Music Business Seminars
There are a number of music business focused seminars happening at Crossroads this year. Some of these include Back to Basics: Marketing Your Work, Music Coalition Summit, Back to Basics: Ticketing and Box Office, Growing Your Festival Year to Year, Back to Basics: Programming Your Venue, and more. Learn more about the Crossroads Seminars.
The showcase this year will include seven Midwest bands at People’s Court Thursday, Nov. 10. The night will begin with a networking reception at 6pm. Bands will begin at 7:30 p.m., playing on two separate stages. Bands performing will be: Vanity Theft, Making Movies, Mathien, Rebel Creek, The Sexual Undertones, Datagun, and Michelle Lynn. Learn more about the Crossroads Showcase.