Music to your ears… An industry reinvented to DIY
By Martin Kellett a Synergy Marketing practitioner
It was the mid seventies when I first really got in to buying records and loving music. At the same time I picked up a guitar and joined a local school band.
Any way back in those days, between 1971/76, saw my interest in music take shape, big style.
image courtesy of Nile Rodgers – Facebook
A typical Saturday morning back then involved me rounding up my mates, mostly fellow guitarists, drummers, bass players and mates… dressed in our best, with huge fluted flared trousers, long double stitched shirt collars, mighty platform shoes and the bands exclusive, a black leather trench coat! Oh we were cool, well at least… we thought so!
Saturday mornings in the UK for me and my mates, the religion was, hit Woolies, or Wollworth’s to use it’s proper name, or one of our specialist independent music shop’s like ‘Spinnadisc’.
A typical Hifi from the era, complete with groovy wall paper in background!
In those days, many music shops or stores had a centre isle with loads of crappy headphones draped from equally crappy Fidelity music systems, does anyone remember the Fidelity Hifi stereo players of that era? Man they were dodgy sounding, thin and tinny with almost no bass end, but if you held your nose and blew it almost, you just might get a bit of bass.
The store member of staff used to keep a vigilant eye open for the poster stealers! In those days the record labels still produced for in store use, a promotion poster to promote the artist at a point of sale. Needless to say, we did a roaring trade in poster swapping, it’s what funded our insatiable appetite for new music.
In the days when the UK offered the Bay City Rollers, The Searchers and the like, we were in search ourselves, for music from across the pond with the likes of The Doobie Brothers, The Eagles and Earth Wind & Fire.
When I first clapped my ears on the incredible whaling guitar sounds of the Gibson SG on ‘China Grove’ by the Doobie Brothers, or the Eagles mega track of ‘Hotel California’ with that world renowned double lead break, man I was hooked on the best of the US had to offer. Finally we progressed on to the likes of Earth Wind & Fire to hear Phil Bailey strike that unattainable note in ‘Reasons’ when all around our little troop of muso’s… our mouths just dropped, because boy is that some note to hit, you know the line… ‘After all the reasons why’, ‘all the reasons were a lie’ ‘After all the reasons why love was left aside’ here the scaled note: “Heeehhhh, ooooh, yeaahhh, oohhh baby”
My track list of top tunes:
China Grove – 1973 Doobie Brothers:
Hotel California – 1976 The Eagles:
Reasons – 1971 Earth Wind & Fire
So back in the ‘Spinnadisc’ our specialist music shop of choice in the town of Northampton in the UK, the owner introduced us to an array of American import artists with likes of some serious players like George Duke, George Benson, who was still not a commercialised artist, at that time. We learnt of Billy Cobham and even the little known Lonnie Listen Smith. These guys blew our minds at a time when the UK were churning out the likes of Shakin Stevens, Gary Glitter and so on. To us we felt like musical kings to be able to listen to and get hold of such great music from the U.S.
So how has the current music scene changed compared to the 70’s, 80’s and so on?
Back then, bands and artists were signed to a dedicated record label or management, who were responsible for every aspect of the band. From the musical content, visual content and right to all forms of promotion and publishing. These large corporations would wield huge resources and staff time to manufacture the bands or artist very persona. They invested huge sums of money but only did so, when they could see an even larger return on their investment. All this did in many cases of those early days, was, to make a lot of record industry executives very rich, whilst for some, poor, unsuspecting artists, to not receive a great deal in return for their involvement in this business relationship. Don’t get me wrong, there were some very good deals struck back then for some artists, but there were also some really dodgy one’s too!
Today, it is however a whole different ‘kettle of fish’
Now artist’s and record labels have to compete with the national TV networks that create the likes of the X Factor, The Voice and global shows like American Idol. These shows are a new phenomenon or dimension in the music industry. They attract huge audiences of young wannabes that are manufactured for the mass popular music market. Whilst in the purists eyes, these types of hair brushed artists are not schooled in the conventional way, who says what is convential in the music business any longer. Whilst I lean towards the conventional artist and record label route of creating music content, I have to accept, one or two of these new show type artists, have been a real find and have rekindled the mass histeria that bands and artists used to create, back in the day.
In a non TV show music creation world, the artists, label relationship is far more business like, today. It’s more real and even more of a partnership, that’s if, and it’s a BIG if, you can, get a deal with a publisher, distributor or label.
Today’s artists not only have to create the music. They are responsible for creating their brand and following. Very few record labels will even consider an artist tie-up without that artist already having a substantial, established audience and following. The artists needs to have demonstrated the business understanding of marketing and audience growth and development. It’s far more about putting an R in the Band, to already have an established bRand, that the label can clearly see, already has an established following.
So, today’s artist is very often responsible for the development of the music material, identifying their audience, understanding what that audience wants and expects. They have to be able to learn who their audience is, where they hang out, what they talk about, to who they talk and communicate and what about. In short the band or artist is responsible for their own marketing, embracing channels that can broaden their audience reach, like social media channels, portals that can distribute marketing messaging and technology that can deliver their content across multiple platforms and devices.
The modern day artist or band is far more in tune with their fans. They keep up close communications with their fan base and work hard to keep engagement and communications channels open. The reason a modern day band or artist need that close contact with their fan base, is the realisation that, the bands best promoters are their loyal fan base. With the power of social networks and shareable content platforms like YouTube for videos clips and music sample tracks via Soundcloud, the bands strives to get exposure via its fan base. The larger their fan base, the larger the shareable network.
With out the big push provided by the record label marketing team, the band must use every trick in the book to fill live event shows, plug any merchandise sales and push direct album or single downloads via the self publish, digital distribution platforms like Bandcamp, TuneCore and the like. With these form of self publishing platforms, getting the bands music on iTunes, Amazon and GooglePlay can be achieved, with a little publishing understanding and a grasp of technology. Whilst these self publishing platforms make it easier to get your music distributed, there is a cost per sale agreement to most of the platforms.
For live events, band and artists of all sizes are starting to employ some clever direct marketing activities. The use of QR code marketing, displaying QR codes with direct access to an album purchase point, or short code SMS messaging to encourage a purchase right there and then at the live performance, like a message conveyed on a display screen saying… LIKE THIS TRACK? Text BUY to 77786 or whatever short code used. With the recent addition of the Apple Passbook and Google Wallet, the live music event artist has another new marketing opportunity. With iBeacon, a device that allows for distribution of Passbook vouchers, offers codes and ticket, merchandise and music concessions, bands can now publish event specific offers, direct to the audience via the smartphone. These types of impulse purchase mechanisms are a way with which the band can communicate a buying signal, direct to their audience, at the live event.
So how has the industry changed over the past 30 to 40 years, well it has been turned on its head. Bands and artists can no longer rely on a record label to promote, market, package, distribute and collect PRS for their material. The artists themselves now have to do a great deal of the leg work themselves, unless signed to a label and even then, there is an expectation that the the band members or artist will themselves help generate promotion of their product.
In short… the music industry itself has adapted, reinvented and realigned itself to be either a partnership between the artist and label working as a collective in marketing terms, or by the survival theory, the artist has had to develop their own marketing skills to connect the dots themselves.
Ricky Bailey – Delegation Band
Even the time served, industry hardened professional artists, with more than 30+ years under their belt, like UK based Delegation, now Delegation Band, headed by the formidable Ricky Bailey. Ricky Bailey is the veteran front man of Delegation. Ricky has seen his way through countless record labels, with a whole heap of released albums and singles. He has seen and worked with many management teams from the various labels, he has been assigned to. Ricky has worked with many top promoters throughout Europe, as the band was very big in France, Germany and Italy. With all this industry experience, Ricky finds himself promoting a new era of Delegation music, finally without a record label in tow. Ricky’s latest project with a soon to be released new album has piloted the project with his first independent single release, called ‘I Surrender’, an up tempo, heavy bass, foot tapping Soul track. Now in charge of his own destiny, marketing the new material, the bands live performance events, planning merchandising deals and having self taught himself, how to use social media, with a little help from friends, Ricky and Delegation head out on the latest era of the band’s journey… being self sufficient. Check out Delegation’s new track ‘I Surrender’ here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/i-surrender-drizabone-mix/id773651671
Delegation latest news: http://www.delegationband.com/news/4583034335
Another successful artist worth a look, is a long standing artist like Nile Rodgers, the legend that is Chic. With huge past success with his fellow band member and bassist the late, Bernard Edwards, recording and producing music with and for many very success UK and U.S. bands including Madonna, Diana Ross, David Bowie and Eric Clapton. Even with his recent huge success with the French duo Daft Punk accepting a Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Get Lucky”, Nile the artist is hard at work, promoting, social networking, writing blog posts and generally out there on the net wielding his marketing sword.
Courtesy – Nile Rodgers (right) with Pharrell (centre) on Daft Punk set – http://nilerodgers.com/
Don’t miss the ‘The Hitmaker’ a BBC documentary aired in the UK about Nile Rodgers and the Chic legacy for writing and producing many of the most successful disco era music. See the full version of ‘The Hit Maker Documentary here: http://logic-pro-expert.com/logic-pro-blog/2013/12/10/nile-rodgers-hitmaker-bbc-full-documentary.html
Music to your ears… An industry reinvented to DIY
By Martin Kellett
For more information about marketing support and direction for music bands and artist email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: www.bos-marketing.com