The New Age of Music Marketing… is it really new?

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I had the great experience of being able to attend the Seymour Stein/Richard Gottehrer Interview at the Park Theater over this past weekend. I am sure all of us attending felt that not only were their stories great, but we also sensed that these two men were really iconic hero’s in the music industry who weren’t afraid to break the rules, to take chances and, thereby, to bring to global audiences what, in fact, were some of the greatest musical acts of our times.

While listening to their experiences, I was trying to relate some of their past marketing ideas to this new age of music that we live in - an age of digital delivery, the internet, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter - and in doing so, realized that what they did in the 60’s 70’s and 80’s really is nothing too different than what we can do now, except we have at our disposal a far greater level - a far greater means - of exposing artists to the masses in a more effective and efficient way than what was available to them.

The new age of marketing is not much different than the old age because it still revolves around the same premise: that there is no right or wrong, there are no rules, there is only one thing a band needs to do, and as Richard Gottehrer put it, “you have to do the things you need to do to GET IT DONE!”

The true test of a band, or an artist, is not what is achieved during times of activity, but more so, what is being achieved during the times when there is nothing happening. As an artist it is very easy to become discouraged during times of inactivity when you aren’t touring, or recording, or playing, or rehearsing or writing! It is during these times that we need to work harder, try new things, take risk and as I have said before….go forth with reckless abandon (but have a plan).

I was recently driving to a meeting and landed on a CBC radio feature called The Age of Persuasion. While I was sitting at a red light the host, the incredible Terry O’Reilly, was talking about a campaign that was undertaken by Marc Ecko, founder of Marc Ecko Clothing, a multi-million dollar clothing conglomerate. The campaign was based on a video that was leaked out to the media and other viral video sites that showed a grainy, shaky video of a group of guys making their way to Andrews Air Force base, jumping a secure fence, running across a tarmac towards the US President’s airplane, Air Force One. As you watched the video you saw someone spray paint “Still Free” on the engine of the aircraft! In the ensuing hours after the video hit the Internet, more that 100 news companies worldwide showed the video. The video had been played over 1 million times in the space of 24 hours and US officials were red-faced and looking for answers. Just over a week later, once all speculation peaked, clues started to emerge as to the identity of these men, the men who so brazenly and with “reckless abandon,” did such an act. It later was found to be a video hoax. A cheap camera and some fancy editing and presto! A true manipulation of the media in all forms… a manipulation pulled off by Marc Ecko himself. Why? Because there are no boundaries in marketing, there are no rules. In 24 hours and in the weeks after the hoax, the already successful Marc Ecko and all his companies had now become known worldwide. No one got hurt, no animals had to die… just a message and an idea and the cajonies to pull it off! All for under $100 bucks!!!!!

Does an artist have to go to this extreme? Do they have to “sell out?” I guess every artist is different. I often hear artists say they just want to write and put out music, if people hear it then great, if not, oh well! Then there are the artists who want to be huge, they want to be heard, they want to perform and they want to be successful. For some artists the dream is a constant. They want to expose themselves to the masses, get their music out there, perform it and have the absolute joy of hearing an audience sing back to them their own lyrics, word for word. Everyone has his or her own definition of success. But, whatever that definition is, you need to examine not what you are doing during the active times, but what you need to do in the down times.

Go forth with reckless abandon. Make the phone call to the producer you never thought you could work with. Call up a management company that you might want to have represent you, write more songs, play more shows, get in your car and tour. Don’t wait for someone to do it…. do it yourself! We live in a time where it is so much easier to do a video and put it up on Youtube. Use Myspace to find other artists that are similar to you and the music you play and get in touch with them. Ask to play shows with them, ask them to come here to play with you, bond, make contacts, get email addresses from your Facebook friends and start an e-mailing list and keep your friend and fans informed. We live in an information age. Information and what we do with it is really the new age of marketing and that information is easier than ever to find.

The internet has given artists an easy way to deliver and distribute their music, find a show, get a tour going, advertise, market, inform and expose. Seymour Stein says,

“….India is the next massive music market for artists. They are a country with 1.15 Billion people, 400 million of which are craving new music and speak and understand English...”

Why can’t you as an artist get your music to India? You can! Think big and big things will happen. Aspire to be bigger than your hometown, then aspire to bigger that the country you live in! Don’t be afraid to say goodbye to what you are comfortable with and take a risk. Seymour Stein signed Madonna in a hospital bed without even seeing her perform a show! He took a chance.

The new age of marketing is about taking chances and breaking the rules…. the same as the old age of marketing! To steal one of the greatest marketing catch phrases ever…. “Just do It!” .

Manitoba has some of the best talent in the country, the only thing that sets artists apart is what they will do to try and be successful. Try anything, try everything...Just do it!

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