Music Marketing

SXSW at a glance

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.

Here’s why:

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.

Key points:

  • 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 CEO & Founder Daniel Ek and Forbes Associate Editor Steven Bertoni talking about the future of music at SXSW 2013.

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.

Key points:

  • 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.

Key points:

  • 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.

Key points:

  • 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.

Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!

Crossroads Entertainment Conference – Nov. 10-11

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.

Panelists: Jade Nielsen of Jade Presents, Patrick Fleming of Poison Control Center, Becky Migas of Venu Works and Hoyt Sherman Place, and Aric Simons of Aric Simons and Associates.

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.

Panelists: Roy Elkins of Broadjam Inc., Adam Broman of Flood Bumstead McCready & McCarthy and owner of Giant Size Designs, Brandon Clark of Clark Law Firm, and Brandon Darner of The Envy Corps.

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.

Crossroads Showcase
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.

Get Your Tickets
Seminars and Showcase – $40
Showcase Only – $10

Geo-Targeting Your Messages to Fans

Today’s blog post was prompted from an e-newsletter I got from The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. I signed up for their email list after seeing them perform at the 80/35 music festival. The sign up form on their website had an option to include your city and state, which I provided. The email I got from them today had the subject line: “This Saturday at the Slowdown in Omaha.” The message certainly caught my attention because it was about a show near me, rather than just a message about them going on tour. This example of sharing the most relevant information to a fan is the beauty of geo-targeting your messages.

Geo-targeting is the tactic of directing your efforts to a specific geographic region. This not only captures your fans’ attention more effectively, it also helps break through the clutter of messages people get on a daily basis. If you continually blast your fans with messages that aren’t useful it can start to become “spammy” and you could get an e-newsletter unsubscriber or a Facebook fan may decide to hide your posts from their news feed. You don’t want to break these important communication channels you’ve built up.

Here are some ways to geo-target your messages:

  • Facebook Status Updates – If you want to share details about an upcoming show in Minneapolis or maybe you are looking for people to hang posters about your new album in Kansas City, using Facebook’s geo-targeting status updates can come in really helpful. You can target your status update to specific countries, states, and cities. In the status update box you’ll see a drop down to select Public or Customize. When you select Customize you will get options to target your audience. First type in the desired country and then a list will pop up to select Everywhere, By State/Province, or By City. You can choose multiple states or cities, as well as target by language.

  • Online Advertising – There are multiple options for placing geo-targeted advertisements online such as a banner ad on Pitchfork’s website, a box ad on a JamBase e-newsletter, or a standard ad on Facebook. Almost all online websites that sell advertising offer packages that allow you to target users in certain geographic regions. If you are going the Facebook route, there are options to geo-target by country, state, city, and zip code. Facebook gets much deeper into targeting options by providing selections such as interests, age, education, marital status, and more. You can explore all your options for advertising on Facebook at For magazine websites, blogs, or popular e-newsletters, the best way to find out about available packages is to email their advertising department. We recommend requesting their rate card and letting them know your budget, timeline, and regions you want to target. Then it comes down to negotiating a package that gives you the most impressions and visibility in the markets you want to reach.
  • E-Newsletters – Just as we noted above, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band’s e-newsletter is a stellar example of geo-targeting your messages to fans. Make sure when you are choosing an e-newsletter service you pick one that allows you to enter geographic information. MailChimp is the service we blogged about last week, they offer a geo-targeted option that allows you to select which regions or define a radius for sending your e-newsletters. The biggest thing to remember for geo-targeting your e-newsletters is to make sure you are getting the information. If you don’t know where your fans live, you won’t even have the option to geo-target. When you put an e-mail sign up form on your website or have a hard copy form at a show, always ask for either their city and state or zip code. Even if you aren’t touring a lot just yet, it’s very helpful information to have in the future. Start gathering it!

If you have any questions on how to utilize geo-targeting in your marketing efforts, get in touch with us.

Foursquare and Songkick partner for live music check-ins

Foursquare announced this week that they’re going to start pulling major events into their database via partnerships with Songkick, ESPN and to allow users to add more information to their check-ins. The partnership with Songkick will allow foursquare to access major concerts from Songkick’s database.

With the new event check-ins, music fans using foursquare will now be able to check-in to a particular concert along with their location vs. just the venue location. This adds a whole new dimension to check-ins. Foursquare is thinking about venues and users creating events, but they want to make sure they do it right, so for now only events and concerts provided by the Songkick database will show up in foursquare.

Foursquare experimented with event check-ins during the past two SXSW conferences, allowing people to check-in to all the SXSW-related events happening around Austin. Jill and I first experienced the live music foursquare event check-ins this past year at SXSW Music and loved them. With so much going on around Austin during SXSW Music, including panels, showcases, parties and concerts, the event check-ins made it easier to share exactly what you were up to.

To celebrate the launch of their new partnership with foursquare, Songkick is offering foursquare users a chance to win a year’s worth of free concert tickets via their “golden ticket” contest. To participate users can download the Songkick iPhone app, then contact the company via Twitter or email to be entered to win.

We’re very excited about the addition of live music check-ins on foursquare here at On Pitch. We believe that a band’s best promoter is its fans, and allowing foursquare users to share details about the concerts they’re attending is going to help promote and encourage music fans to attend more live music events. What are your thoughts on the new event check-ins? Leave us a comment below.

Three creative and early uses of Google+ by artists

We recently wrote about how artists can use Google+ to connect with fans and shared some of the main features of the new social networking tool, along with our thoughts on how we see artists utilizing them. While we were exploring the basics of G+, we couldn’t help but notice a handful of artists (and growing by the day) who are already creatively using G+ to offer exclusive content and connect with their fans. From breaking the mold, to breaking out and going global, below are three examples of artists who are leading the pack and making good use of Google+.

Singer/songwriter Daria Musk goes global with Google+ Hangouts
While you might not have heard of her (yet), Daria Musk was one of the first artists to make waves with her “go global” live webcast approach to G+. The singer/songwriter used a Google+ Hangout to broadcast a live set from her recording studio. Due to Google’s current limitations, only 10 people could watch at once, although one of them just happened to be a Google engineering director who figured out a way to ‘daisy chain’ the video chat so more people could log in. According to Daria, she became a global artist overnight, sharing this map of where audience members from her first G+ hangout tagged themselves. Since then, she’s landed a bit of press… worldwide, proving that sometimes it pays to be an early adopter.

Mark Hoppus reveals Blink-182’s sixth studio LP in Google+ Hangout
As we mentioned in our previous post, Google plans to roll out business profiles later this year, so while bands can’t currently create G+ profiles, individuals (band members) can. Enter Blink-182 bassist Mark Hoppus, who recently released the name of the band’s sixth studio LP in a Google+ Hangout. The LP will be titled Neighborhoods and will be released on September 27 in the U.S. Mark is also sharing exclusive content such as behind the scenes photos from photo and video shoots, production rehearsals and his show Hoppus on Music.

My Morning Jacket premieres the video for “Holdin On To Black Metal” on Google+
My Morning Jacket bassist Tom Blankenship and guitarist Carl Broemel gave fans an early preview of their new video “Holdin On To Black Metal” by posting it to their new Google+ profiles, resulting in one of the first music video premieres on Google+. While we applaud the concept of premiering a music video on Google+, it turns out that the effort yielded only a lukewarm reception from fans. This is likely because Broemel only had one connection on the site (Blankenship), and only 42 people had Blankenship in their Circles when they premiered the video. Broemel is now in 138 Circles and Blankenship in 249, proving that their networks are slowly expanding. This example again emphasizes that Google+ is still in its early stages of growth and that offering official pages for brands will be key in order for it to become a legitimate marketing tool for musicians.


We expect a lot of new artists to start popping up on Google+ in the coming months, and we look forward to watching the social networking site evolve and provide new and innovative ways for artists to share and connect with their fans. How would you like to see artists use Google+? Leave us a comment below.

Spotify: Popular music service creates new marketing opportunities

Spotify has the ability to shift how we consume music. Described as “a digital music service that gives you access to millions of songs,” Spotify launched in October 2008 in Europe, but just became available in the U.S. a few weeks ago — and it’s already becoming very popular. Billboard announced last week that the service already has 1 million U.S. users. Spotify is currently in invite-only mode, but you can request an invite on their website to get access fairly quickly. If you aren’t familiar with Spotify, here’s a rundown of the features and pricing tiers:

And here’s a quick tutorial video that explains the service.

Spotify is taking the music industry by storm and has the potential to do big things. The main reasons: 1) The social features are great – I think much better than iTunes or Google Music. 2) They worked out deals with the major labels before launching, unlike many other services. 3) It makes music listening and discovery easy and fast.  It will be interesting to watch how Spotify grows and changes how we consume music in the future.

As marketers, we are always thinking of new promotional tactics and Spotify offers some unique opportunities to explore. Here are a couple ways you can take advantage:

  • For music venues, events or festivals
    • Create a Spotify account for your venue, event or festival just like you would a personal profile. You can’t tie it to your Facebook page, but the key here is that you can create and share playlists. For example, we recently created an account for Vaudeville Mews and developed a playlist of tracks by bands performing at the venue in the month of August. We promoted the playlist via the venue’s Facebook, Twitter and e-newsletter.
  • For bands and musicians
    • Anyone can get their music on Spotify. This is a great way to promote your songs and allow fans to create and share playlists that include your music. To submit, you need to upload your tracks to one of the artist aggregators Spotify works with. Keep in mind it takes about 4-6 weeks for the music to appear on Spotify.
    • Once your music is on Spotify or if you already have tracks on the site, make sure your biography is up to date. Spotify pulls all artist bios from All Music Guide and Wikipedia. So update your bio on those sites and the next time Spotify pulls for updated bios, yours will get corrected.
    • Share your Spotify artist page and any playlists that feature your music on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  • For everyone
    • Use the Spotify follow widget to the right to promote your profile on your blog or website. To get the code, login to your account on the Spotify website and go to the account overview page.
  • Advertising opportunities
    • Spotify has some unique advertising opportunities in the following formats: Audio: 30 second ads, cover replacement image, click-throughs AND Graphic: banners, skyscrapers, mpus, page takeovers. If you are trying to reach music fans, this would be a good outlet to research.

If you’ve seen any creative marketing uses with Spotify, please share them in the comments.

Follow us on Spotify: Hillary and Jill.

How artists can use Google+ to connect with fans today

There’s a new kid on the social networking block, and by kid we mean Google’s newest gargantuan project, Google+. If you’re an early adopter, you’re probably already circling, sharing and hanging out on the latest social networking tool from Google, which after its first month of existence has managed to attract more than 25 million early adopters.

All the buzz surrounding this new social sharing tool has sparked our curiosity about how artists might be able to leverage G+ to connect with their fans and integrate its unique features into their ever expanding marketing arsenal. Consider this your early user guide, but expect to hear more from us as G+ continues to evolve and add features, including the addition of business profiles, expected to launch later this year.

Note: Google is urging brands (and bands) to wait for these official business profiles and has even started pulling down some branded profiles. Bob Baker of the gives the scoop in his warning to music industry professionals who are considering setting up a G+ profile for their band, label, studio or store.

The forthcoming brand profiles will likely include analytics, and Google emphasizes that they will not be able to automatically migrate individual profiles once the brand profiles launch, so we second the approach of sitting tight until the official launch of brand profiles. Now that we’ve got our buzzkill warning out of the way, let’s explore how artists can utilize G+ as individuals to connect with other industry professionals and fans while waiting patiently for the business profiles to take shape.

As you know, artists already have an excess of social marketing tools at their fingertips, but G+ offers some truly unique features to connect with fans like never before. Below is an overview of the main features and a few ways we see artists taking advantage of them to connect with fans.

Think of Circles as the fan management feature of G+. You can create as many Circles as you want and add people by dragging them into a Circle. Once your Circles are created, you can share content with them and view the streams of specific Circles. Circles allow you to define your audience by type, such as fans, other artists, industry reps, or even by location. It should be noted that your Circles are private, so the people you Circle are unable to view how you’ve categorized them. Once you’ve defined your Circles, you’re ready to connect with your fans. Knowing which content your various Circles are interested in receiving will ensure that you’re adding value to their stream. Here are some suggestions for what types of Circles to create and content to share:

  • Fans: Share content and media that your fans enjoy consuming. Give them behind the scenes access to your touring and recording process and share photos, video, music and other exclusive content.
  • Other artists: Following other artists can help you learn about new and creative ways to connect with your fans and open the door for potential collaborations and networking opportunities.
  • Industry reps: Share updates and info about your latest releases, new tour dates, music videos and press updates.
  • Following: Similar to Twitter, you can follow others without being Circled back. This is a great way to keep up with influential figures.

The more targeted your Circles are, the more your content will make sense for your fans. For example, you can create Circles based on their location (city/state) to keep your fans in the loop about upcoming tour dates. That way you’re not promoting your upcoming show in Minneapolis to your fans in Austin.

Sparks are similar to an RSS feed or Google Alerts without the added work of setting up searches and subscribing to specific RSS feeds. Simply select from the topics provided or search for some interests and topics you’d like to follow, and check your Sparks on your own terms to stay looped in the topics you’re most interested in.

Google+ Hangouts offer an easy and intimate way for you to connect with your fans in real time, and we’ve seen some very creative uses of this feature so far. With Hangouts you can hang out with up to ten friends, in real-time video, from anywhere. Hangouts are created by one person, but everyone in the Hangout shares the ability to invite others.

Artists can host Hangouts with specific Circles and do activities such as host a Q&A session, take your fans behind the scenes while you’re recording or shooting a video, play an acoustic set or impromptu live performance for your fans, or even allow your fans to interact and connect with each other.  Watch the video below to learn more about Google+ Hangouts.

We look forward to seeing how the Google+ features and community evolve over the coming months and hope that Google will take a cue from some of the early adopters in the music industry as to how the social networking tool can be effectively utilized by artists, music venues, record labels and other industry professionals. Stay tuned for a future blog post with more details and some case studies of artists who are already creatively using Google+ to connect with their fans.

What creative uses of Google+ have you seen so far by artists? Leave us a comment below.

The fourth annual 80/35 music festival is finally here!

The fourth annual 80/35 music festival is fast approaching, and we’ve been busy working on the festival since July 5th of last year! From coordinating all the media relations, managing the social media presences, organizing the street team efforts, and collaborating on all sorts of fun promotions – we’ve been knee-deep in 80/35 marketing for the last 365+ days.

Jill has been involved with the festival from the beginning, and Hillary has been helping for the past three years. We love working on a music festival that pushes the boundaries of Central Iowa’s music scene and contributes to its growth. 80/35 brings in many acts that have never played in Des Moines before and exposes people to new music that may have otherwise not been aware of. Here are a few photos of some of our favorite marketing memories from this year!

See you at the festival! Follow us on Twitter: @hillabean, @jillh and @onpitch for updates.

Landing A Music Panel at South by Southwest

Last week I moderated a panel called Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country at the SXSW Music and Media Conference in Austin, Texas. Jill and I submitted the idea for the panel last June, and after months of planning and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the big day, we were excited to finally come together with our rock star lineup of speakers to conduct the panel.

We’re happy to report that the panel was a huge success. Attendance was great, with about 70 people joining us for the discussion. According to the poll we took during the panel, our audience was about 50/50 musicians and music professionals.

We’d like to thank everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to attend the panel, including our panelists: Sean Moeller, Scott Booker, Shawn Crahan, and Amedeo Rossi, who provided invaluable advice and insight on the topic of how to launch a music career in any region.

From Sean Moeller’s desire to record and write about music on his own terms, which has ultimately led to a revolutionization of online music through Daytrotter, to Slipknot founding member Shawn Crahan’s innate need to unleash his creativity since he was a young child, there were a few consistent themes throughout the panel. All of our panelists exuded innovation, fearlessness and motivation – they have truly carved their own paths while creating their own unique and successful music careers right here in the Midwest.

All of the panelists also have a higher purpose and vision of creating a better tomorrow for the music industry. From Amedeo Rossi’s vision to foster a cultural landscape that encourages up-and-coming artists to stick around in Iowa through the Greater Des Moines Music Coalition, to Scott Booker’s innovative career path leading him to cultivate and educate future generations about every aspect of the music industry at ACM@UCO in Oklahoma City, the speakers have not only impacted the music scene and industry in their communities, but they’ve influenced movements that will ultimately impact the music industry as a whole.

Their stories and advice were inspiring, uncut and raw – the kind of stuff that SXSW is made of.

Listen to a podcast of  “Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country” here.

Check more photos from the panel on our Facebook Page and some recent press coverage below.

Silicon Prairie News PrairieCast
Radio Iowa
Iowa State Daily

Successful online music marketing case studies

Connecting with fans is imperative in today’s music industry. It’s that connection that can give them a reason to buy and support your music. Utilizing social media and having a strong online presence makes connecting with fans much more achievable. Below are some good case studies of bands that found success through an online campaign. I encourage musicians to review these examples and pay attention to the elements that made them successful. Then think about how to implement those strategies into your own marketing plans.

  • Arcade Fire – Interactive Music Video Using Google Street View
  • Watch the video

    Arcade Fire utilized HTML5 to create an interactive music video for “We Used to Wait.” Users are prompted to enter the address of their childhood home at the start of the video. While watching the video, scenes from your old neighborhood are pulled in using Google street view.  The elements of new technology, interactivity, nostalgia, experimentation, and personalization all aided in making this video a huge hit. Think about those factors for your next campaign.

  • Jason Parker – Name Your Price Using Bandcamp
    You may recall this example from our previous blog post: Pay What You Want Model: Does it Work? Jason Parker is a Seattle-based jazz musician that has found a lot of success utilizing Bandcamp, a site for bands to sell their music and merch. After deciding to allow fans to name their own price for his music, revenue increased from $15/month to $300/month. Pay attention to what Jason is doing on his social networks. He knows how to connect with fans and give them a reason to buy. He says the majority of his sales from Bandcamp are directed from Twitter, “I see a direct correlation between how much I converse on Twitter and how many downloads I sell. It’s a no-brainer.” Read more about Jason Parker and how he utilizes Bandcamp and social media in this Techdirt article.
  • Josh Freese – Crowdfunding and Miniature Golf
    The one size fits all product days are gone. Having something for the casual fan to the super fan is a great way to be able to sell more and put additional money in your pocket. One way to utilize this method is through Kickstarter, an online funding platform for artists, musicians, inventors, filmmakers, etc. Josh Freese decided utilized Top Spin (a similar site that becomes available for all artists next month) to help fund an upcoming album. The thing I like about what he did was the creative “product” offerings that fit his personality, including:
  • Lunch with him at Cheesecake Factory or PF Chang’s
  • A round of miniature golf
  • Josh washes your car or does your laundry
  • He joins your band for a month
  • A private drum lesson
  • Take three items out of his closet
  • Josh writes a song about you
    See the full list of packages and items Josh made available, which ranged from $7-$75,000. Check out Kickstarter to see how you can use it creatively to fund your next project. Just remember to do something that fits your band’s personality. If you make it the right fit and support it correctly, it can work.
  • Amanda Palmer – Turning the Power of Twitter into $11,000 in 2 Hours
    Amanda Palmer is widely known for her social media expertise. Advertising Age said, “Palmer is more sophisticated than almost anyone on the internet — musician, brand or otherwise — when it comes to gathering her audience around her and keeping the conversation going.”
    On a boring Friday night, Amanda managed to rake in $11,000 in just two hours. It all started with her tweeting about how she was alone, again, on a Friday night sitting in front of her computer. Others started chiming in and began claiming how “we are all losers.” Dialog continued and grew at a rapid pace. A faux organization was started called, “The Losers of Friday Night on their Computers.” Amanda created the hashtag #LOFNOTC and thousands joined the conversation.
    A follower suggested the group create a t-shirt. Amanda quickly decided to run with it. She took a sharpie and made a t-shirt design. A website was thrown up that night with the t-shirts available for $25 a piece. 2 hours later… $11,000.
    What can you learn for this example?
  • Interact with your followers and don’t just mass broadcast.
  • Be personable and share a variety of things with your fans.
  • Always be on your toes, ready to act quickly when opportunities arise.
  • Matthew Ebel – Subscription Site for the Super Fan

    The packages range from $5/month to $15/month, as well as annual options.  He offers a wide range of perks are including members-only parties, VIP seating at shows, access to new music as soon as he creates it, new live concert recordings every month, broken apart tracks ready for remixing, behind-the-scene sketches, drafts, and ideas, and many more. View the full list of packages and perks here.
  • The Poison Control Center – Tumblr Tour Blog
    A special shout out to Iowa’s own The Poison Control Center for their awesome tour blog. The band uses Tumblr, a simple and free blogging platform, to regularly update their fans from the road. After each show they share pictures, videos, and posts about their experiences, even down to thanking the sound guy, door person, bartender, and of course the fans. They do it right by updating frequently, providing a wide variety of content, and always remaining authentic.
  • Gossip Grows on Trees – Building Your Email List with a Fortune Cookie
    Email is one of the best ways to directly reach your fans, but sometimes it can be difficult to grow your subscription list.  Gossip Grows on Trees from North Carolina executed a creative way to gain more email addresses at live shows.
    They created a download web page that gave visitors a free music download in exchange for their email. At shows they walked around and handed out custom fortune cookies with the URL of the download page and a short message from the band. This gave the band an opportunity to spark conversation and develop relationships with fans. Plus, a lot more people visited the download page and provided their email address because they were approached in a memorable way.

All of these online music marketing case studies have a common theme of musicians connecting with fans. It isn’t enough to put your music out there and hope people will gravitate towards it. You have to be willing to push it out there and utilizing online mediums is a key element.

If you know of a successful online music marketing case study, please share it with us in the comments.