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.
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.
Hey y’all, I’m the new summer intern here at On Pitch. Excited to really dig in and learn about the world of social media and music marketing. I’m currently a Journalism and English double major at the University of Iowa, but it’s good to be home in Des Moines for the summer, soaking up the rays and the emerging music scene. I’ve been involved with the arts since I was very young—I’ve always played a wide array of instruments, sang in as many choirs as time would allow, and loved doing speech and theatre stuff. Needless to say, having an opportunity to delve right into the local music scene is right up my alley.
To me every aspect of music marketing is directed toward a common goal—to make live music accessible to a grateful audience—and I’m honored to be more involved in that very process. The first show I ever attended (that wasn’t in a huge arena or the state fair) was at Skate South in West Des Moines. It was Senses Fail, and my preteen self felt so cool to thrash my limbs around in the mosh pit while doing everything in my power to ignore my mother watching closely from the snack area. Ever since that first concert experience—the lights, the energy, the joy of hearing the music that I played on my Walkman reverberating in a real room with real instruments and real musicians—I’ve only been eager to immerse myself more deeply in the concert lifestyle.
While I know that I have a lot to learn, I consider myself somewhat of a social media geek because I realize how much our society relies on technology and the innovative nature of the beast that is the internet—it’s fascinating to watch new possibilities for social and professional outreach emerge. That being said, I have a lot to learn, and I think it’s going to be a great summer learning from and working with Jill and Hillary at On Pitch.
Feel free to connect with me on social media:
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.
Exactly one year ago we officially launched On Pitch at SXSW Music. It’s been quite a year for us. We’ve been busy working on a variety of projects including managing publicity campaigns, coordinating event sponsorships, collaborating on website launches, scheduling advertising buys, executing online marketing pushes, and the list goes on.
Over the past year, we have worked on projects for the following clients:
- 80/35 Music Festival
- Greater Des Moines Music Coalition
- Sound Farm Recording Studio Environment
- Civic Center of Greater Des Moines
- Simon Estes Concert Series and Nitefall on the River
- First Fleet Concerts
- The Envy Corps
- Vaudeville Mews
- The Autumn Project
- Bonne Finken
- The Nadas
- The River Monks
- Des Moines Oktoberfest
In June we submitted to host a panel at SXSW, which ended up getting accepted. Hillary moderated Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country yesterday alongside panelists: Shawn Crahan (Slipknot), Sean Moeller (Daytrotter), Amedeo Rossi (Des Moines Music Coalition), and Scott Booker (Hellfire Ent./The Flaming Lips manager). Listen to Radio Iowa’s feature on the panel here.
As you know, On Pitch has been a passion project for Hillary and I outside our full-time positions at Lava Row and Olde Main Brewing Co. This month I am excited to announce that I’ll be transitioning into a full-time role with On Pitch. Moving forward, we hope to continue to grow our music and entertainment client base locally, while expanding to take on more projects and work with clients regionally. Thanks to all of you for your continued support. Be sure to follow our blog, Twitter, and Facebook for future updates.
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 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
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: @realdaytrotter
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
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
Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country
Thursday, March 17
If you can’t attend, watch for updates on Twitter: @OnPitch.