Excellent Music Marketing Question

Beloved Reader:

Marketing From the Heart Subscriber Barbara Sedun asks
the following question:
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Question: “How do we get people to pay for something they
can get for free?”

It’s got to be stressful to be in an industry where at one time
the companies had all the control and now the loonies are
running the asylum. What do you tell a hot artist who has
hundreds of thousands of downloads, but no royalties
coming in?

Here’s my answer to Barbara and a few thoughts besides:

“Shania Twain’s last record was such an awesome example
of packaging, positioning and a dead on understanding of
her audience. Many millions of people just had to have it.
Shania and Mutt Lange added a lot of value [including
mixing two entirely different version of each song for
different radio formats and including two CDs in the
package] and so the product stood out brilliantly.
So that’s one answer—adding value.

In the post-Napster world, you may as well embrace the
fact that people only buy music AFTER they have some
of the artist’s songs—and love them! Most artist websites
demonstrate that principle in action by offering generous
free samples. But they don’t go far enough. I think the answer
is to nurture the particular audience that grows up around the
artist. Help the artist bond with his or her fans, offer extra
value to those who sign up for updates and touring dates
and insider features.

This will allow you to lock in sales of the next release and
create a market for live performances and ancillary
products. The more “stickiness” the artist has with
audiences, the more word of mouth promotion happens,
and the more opportunities for other artists covering their
• • • • • •

Yet more:
John Lennon once said, “Before Elvis, there was nothing!”
In those days, around 1950, there wasn’t much, apparently,
for a rebellious young tough to do. After Elvis, it was
obvious — start a rock n’ roll band!

When Elvis went into the army, (and before he reemerged
reconstituted as one of the better Elvis Impersonaters in the
Western Hemisphere) there was nothing all over again.

In those days, music impressarios were able to assemble a
few “good looking kids” and mold them into an act. After a bit
of grooming, they’d get them a record deal and a tour. Some
of these acts hit the big time.

After the Beatles, it became very difficult to market “inauthentic”
acts. After the phenomenal effect of The Beatles and Bob
Dylan on a generation, assembled acts were difficult to

These days, the record company have no such grand
designs. Everyone is discovering themselves. The record
companies sit back and see who can do what they used to
do. Discover an act, groom it, record it, promote it. At the
propitious moment, they step forward and say, “Hey, I love
your stuff, man!”


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