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!

Music Blogging – Des Moines Style

Music fans across Des Moines are taking notice of our burgeoning music community. Many of them are helping push our scene to the next level by blogging about it.

We absolutely love how many bloggers in Des Moines are covering music. We encourage all of you to follow and support these blogs and thank them for chronicling what’s happening here in Iowa’s capital city.

DSM Band Bombshell

Iowa Music Buzz

Iowaves Music Blog


Greater Des Moines Music Coalition

Des Moines is NOT Boring

Central Iowa Music Scene Examiner

The Lonely Note

des noise


Joe’s Music Blog (Metromix)

Did we miss one? Let us know by commenting below!

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.

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.

Behind the Scenes at 80/35

You’ve seen photos of all of the bands and festivities from this year’s 80/35 music festival. Now here’s a behind-the-scenes glimpse from our perspective of the preparations and efforts that took place during the festival in the press room, on the streets and in the media.

80/35 press leading up to the festival. Thanks to our local media for supporting the festival.

Final meeting of the festival organizers on Friday night.

A look into the press room.

Our work area in the press room.

DMMC President Justin Schoen reporting live from 80/35 on KCCI's This Morning Saturday

Jill mastering power tools to build the community board.

The finished product - the community board in the YPC "Do More" Village


Mediacom recording Christopher the Conquered's set.

Hillary and Jill on site early to prepare for day two of 80/35.

Woke up to a cover story in the Sunday Register!



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.

Meet the speakers participating in our SXSW panel

Tomorrow we host Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country at the SXSW Music Conference in Austin, Texas. We are honored to feature such an accomplished group of professionals with successful music careers in “flyover country.”

From a Grammy-award winning musician that maintains his home base in Des Moines, an entrepreneur that carved his own path opening a music venue and launching a major summer music festival, a record store clerk turned manager for major recording artists that cultivates his music community, and a blogger whose website not only revolutionized his city, but the entire indie music scene.

Please take a moment to get to know the Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country speakers.

Scott Booker

Scott Booker started as a clerk at Sound Warehouse in Midwest City, Oklahoma. After enrolling at the University of Central Oklahoma, Scott simultaneously managed Rainbow Records. After Scott met The Flaming Lips in 1990 he quickly became – and still is – their manager. In 2001 Scott formed Hellfire Enterprises with his wife Jennifer, helping get the word out about bands like Sigur Ros, Devendra Banhart and El-P. Currently CEO at the Academy of Contemporary Music at UCO, Scott’s focus is helping cultivate and educate future generations about every aspect of the music industry.

Find Scott on Twitter: @scottdbooker

Sean Moeller

Before revolutionizing online music, Iowa-native Sean Moeller was working full time as a sports and entertainment writer for the Quad-City Times and freelancing for various music magazines across the country. While out on a run one morning, Sean came up with the idea of having touring bands drop by a studio in Rock Island, Illinois, and play an impromptu set on borrowed instruments. Now considered one of the most popular indie music blogs on the internet, Daytrotter allows for free music discovery and is home to a host of creative music, writing, and artwork.

Find Sean on Twitter:

Shawn Crahan

Shawn “Clown” Crahan is one of the founding members of Des Moines-based metal icons Slipknot. His resume includes seven Grammy nominations and one win, 14 million albums sold world-wide, and tours spanning the globe. Shawn also performs with Dirty Little Rabbits and is currently preparing for the release of the debut album from his latest Group The Black Dots of Death. He continues to maintain his roots in his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa.

Follow Shawn on Twitter: @MShawnCrahan

Amedeo Rossi

Iowa native Amedeo Rossi’s goal is to foster a cultural landscape that encourages up-and-coming artists to stick around. After years of corporate human resources, Rossi shifted his focus to Des Moines’ budding arts and entertainment scene and collaborated to open indie music venue Vaudeville Mews in 2004. Rossi helped found the Greater Des Moines Music Coalition and has led the development of the annual 80/35 Music Festival.

Follow Amedeo on Twitter: @amedeo10

Panel Details
Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country
Thursday, March 17
Room 11AB

If you can’t attend, watch for updates on Twitter: @OnPitch.

Photo Credits: Scott Booker via ACM@UCO. Shawn Crahan via Brian Leli.

In case you missed it, our feature in the Business Record

Did you catch the article about On Pitch in the Business Record earlier this year? In case you missed it, you can read the feature here. A special thanks to Todd Razor for sharing our story!