Friday, October 30, 2009

Day 302: Author Interview - Tom Hutchison

As promised yesterday, here is the interview we did with author of 'Web Marketing for the Music Business' - Tom Hutchison. Some good gen in here alone, so imagine the amount of info in the book!

Firstly, do you think musical genre itself is as important a factor in online success as some marketing strategies (ie Electronic music against Country)?

Absolutely. Research has shown that fans of Alternative and Rock music are more likely to buy a digital version of a song than fans of Country or Latin. This is determined by looking at the overall market share for each genre, and then comparing that to that genre's market share of digital sales. For example, in 2008, Alternative music accounted for about 16% of all sales. But of all digital sales, over 23% were sales of Alternative music. Conversely, Country had 10% of the market for CDs, but accounted for only 5% of digital sales. From this you can deduce that Alternative music fans are more tech-oriented in general.

The Internet is now fuller than ever with promotional tools for musicians, do you think there is a risk of over-kill, or these tools being spread too thinly?

I'm not sure overkill is the best description. There is certainly overload, with consumers having too much information at their disposal. There are so many marketing tools available now to musicians, that you almost have to take advantage of all of them in order to reach your market. For example, you need a Facebook fan group, and a MySpace fan group, and a Tweeter group.

What do you think are the 5 key elements to effective Web-Marketing (The 5 must do's!)?

1.A good web site, and not just a page on MySpace, is the most important tool. It is your home base, from which you can launch online promotions.

2. Work the online media, including blogs, just as labels have been working traditional media for publicity coverage for a long time. Get articles, reviews, photos, samples, placed on as many ezine sites and with as many popular bloggers as possible.

3. Work your online presence into your live shows. Give concert goers a reason to visit your website. This can be done through free offerings, contests, photos from the live shows, bonus tracks from live shows, etc.

4. Make sure your music is available for sale through popular retail sites online. It's not enough to sell via your web site, or only on AmieStreet. You need to be in ALL the online retail stores, especially Amazon, iTunes and CDBaby.

5. Make creative music videos and post them on YouTube and your web site. They don't have to be fancy, just clever. See if you can jump start a viral effect.

6. There is one more. Turn your fans into your online street team.

Likewise if you had to suggest the top 3 or 4 on-line resources for independent artists (Distributors, promo tools, web-widgets etc)

SonicBids is a great resource for musicians. It's a multipurpose tool that allows you to present an electronic press kit to club owners, the media, and other industry insiders.

YouTube. People will watch music performed on YouTube before they will download and listen to an audio-only file. YouTube has leveled the playing field for getting music videos to the public. Widgets included.

All the social networking services. This goes without saying that it's a good place to cultivate a fan club and street teams.

One of my favorite sites is They list all the web 2.0 web services and sites, including a category for music. Many are still in the beta testing stage and offer their services for free. Services like Soundcloud that will help you organize and distribute music to your database contacts, and Band Metrics that helps you track and analyze your fans. Those are just two examples of the dozens of sites you can find on this web site.

Conversely, what do you feel are the most mistaken/ill advised marketing techniques people use today?

The worst mistake made in marketing today is to think that search engine optimization (SEO--getting your site ranked near the top of search engine results) will generate traffic to an indie artist's web site. It doesn't. It only helps for people who are already looking for your site, but who can't remember how to spell your domain name. But then, even without SEO, you are likely to come up near the top of search engine results for these fans if they are even close to typing in the correct words. Most traffic to your site will be generated through promotional efforts, not search engine results.

Also, indies who depend entirely on the web for their marketing are forgetting the fact that most of their fans are not online all the time. You need to reach them through traditional methods, especially touring.

With the increase of music available on-line now, do you think that we might see a return to real world marketing and live performance?

I'm not sure we ever had real world marketing. Think about the days since the 1950s, when hit songs were determined by payola instead of true popularity. We had mass media marketing back then. Now we have personal media marketing through the Internet--meaning that each consumer or fan can be marketed to based upon their personal preferences.

The Internet does level the playing field and success reflects what the consumer is interested in. So any hype paid for by major labels is short-lived. As soon as consumers get online and express their opinions of the product, that hype disintegrates. The power is now in the hands of the consumer. That's as real-world as it gets.

In the current fast-changing climate how can unsigned artists sustain an effective marketing strategy while still maybe having a day job, and making music?

The worst comment any musician wants to hear is "don't quit your day job." It's a difficult decision. When I was making a living as a musician, playing music was my only job. I'm not sure that's the best idea. I was forced to play music and gigs that made money but didn't necessarily advance my career. It's hard to do both.

Any up-and-coming artist needs to perform live to build a loyal fan base. Creative videos will help spread the word virally, but that is short-lived. People tend to forget unless they have invested their time by attending a live show. Having said that, it is more difficult for musicians to do this and keep a day job.

The web allows any musician the opportunity to distribute their music globally, but the competition has grown fierce. The number of albums released by indie artists each year is climbing steadily. To stand out from the crowd, you need to be creative in marketing as well as in creating music. And you need to be persistent, or you'll be a one-hit wonder before you even get a record deal. Touring has a long-lasting marketing effect.

As a professor of marketing would you say it is now harder, or easier to build a fan-base and make a good name for yourself?

It is much easier to build a fan base than when I was a musician. There used to be just two kinds of musicians: big stars signed to label deals, and local musicians who played in bars and barely made a living. We are now seeing the emergence of a "middle class" of musicians, who aren't big stars and are not signed to major labels, but have found a way to make a comfortable living through income from live performances and record sales. Computers and the Internet have made that possible.

Excellent, many thanks, any last tips for our readers?

My book Web Marketing for the Music Business was written to help out unsigned musicians who are interested in self-marketing. We haven't discussed mobile marketing, but even local artists should start looking in that direction for future marketing opportunities: Send a text blast locally to remind people of an upcoming show; create viral opportunities; enlist your fans as your street team; start collecting cell numbers like you now do for email addresses. The only way to ride a wave is to be out in front.




No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.