Where And How You Fit Into The Marketplace
Let's take an interesting scenario...
Let's suppose I gave you one million dollars. I heard your band,
really liked it and believed that you could be successful. Let's
also suppose I have plenty of money to throw away. Here's the
deal though. I'm not a record company, just an interested investor.
I give you one million dollars to promote your group, to get on
the radio and to sell records and get in the big music industry
game. In exactly two years I want my money back. It's kind of
a loan. If I get my money back after two years, I will give you
a bigger deal to promote your next record, one and a half million
dollars. If I don't get my money back we never speak again. Deal
over, along with your career.
Think about it. This could be your big chance. One million dollars
to put your music career on the map. Better yet, another million
and a half for your next record. No strings attached. Just a chance
to get you in the door and compete with the big boys.
Here's my question. What do you do with this money? Where do you
begin? How do you entertain the idea of marketing yourself successfully?
It's a good question isn't it? Think about it. What the hell do
I would be interested to get some answers right around now because
I guarantee that 90% of you wouldn't know exactly where to begin.
I don't say this disdainfully, after all most of you are creative
people, not business heads, but the world has changed, and is
changing rapidly. The days of being discovered are over. The days
of signing a major record deal are diminishing rapidly. Of course
there will always be deals to sign but right now it is about self
marketing to get the attention of big industry folks. So give
this scenario some thought because it may not be unreal.
Whether you have $5000 or $1,000,000 to invest in your career,
the thought process should be the same. "What can I do to get
myself to the next level, minimising all risk?" Let me delve
The painful truth is that one million dollars is a pitiful amount
of money to play with in the major league music business. So,
unless you are extremely careful, and I mean EXTREMELY careful,
it will be unbelievably easy to literally throw this money away
unless you know exactly what you are doing. With this in mind,
I would suggest you learn 'exactly' what you are doing.
The next question becomes, "What do I need to learn?" Well, you
will need to learn about radio because you now have money to promote
your record to it. You do want to compete with the big boys right?
Already, we might have stepped one rung of the ladder too far.
If we are going to go to radio, what do we promote to radio? Surely
a single that will lessen the odds of disaster. Now you will need
to be aware of your competition, you will need to know what is
hot at radio, indeed what is hot at YOUR radio format. But what
is YOUR radio format? Is it CHR, Urban, Urban AC, AC, NAC, Alternative,
Country? Any ideas? (Clue: go to www.billboard.biz
and peruse the radio charts, get familiar with where you
fit in). Now, let's not forget that in order to promote to commercial
radio it costs literally thousands upon thousands of dollars,
out of the box. You shouldn't even begin to consider spending
your money until you know that you will have some success in your
format. It's a complete waste of time and money otherwise. You
will need to test market, do a ton of research before you even
spend a dime. Don't forget, I want my money back in two years
and I will give you a bigger deal if you get me my money back.
There is every incentive for you to get this right.
So already you are now thinking about lessening the odds of disaster
because you want a succcessful career right? Ok, We have the radio
thing down. Let's talk about Retail. You will need to get this
wired. Here's a little info you might not know about. We all know
how difficult it is to get distribution, right? They seem to want
to deal with established relationships. Let's assume you have
an 'in' and have a good distributor working with you. That distribution
company has to sell your product to each retail store they are
assigned to. Why will a Tower records or Wherehouse stock your
record? Because you have good distribution? Hell no!! A distributor
is only as good as the record company promoting your record. You,
the label, will need to convince retail to stock your record.
How do you do that? One way might be to deliver them hot faxes
on a weekly basis telling them of all the promotion you are giving
your record, namely; radio action, gigs, special marketing programs,
paying retail exorbitant amounts of money to get 'end caps' (those
cool stands at the front of the store, displaying 50 copies of
your record at sale price). And so on. And this is just the beginning....
How much of this did you know? Be honest. To promote a record
effectively, you have a small window of time where you can buy
listening stations, promote to radio via an independent radio
promoter and market you record effectively.
And don't forget, I want my money back or you don't get the next
million and a half.
Once you put yourself in the competetive world of music business
promotion something interesting happens. The artist seperates
himself/herself from the art and sees things from a purely marketing
standpoint. But not just marketing, marketing TODAY.
And the point of this little scenario? It is important to look
at your product and ask yourself, "Do I have what it takes, and
if not, how can I get to that neccessary place in order to compete?"
We have to exist in a professional playground, like it or not.
How do we fit into this playground? Well, It's become a highly
competetive world which means we have to try to keep one step
ahead, and really know the business. Try to think above who you
are as an artist and understand how you might fit into the marketplace.
Because, frankly, I would really like my money back!
The Author: Chris Standring is the CEO and founder of A&R
He is also a contemporary jazz guitarist presently signed to
Ultimate Vibe Recordings. For more info on Chris' recording
career go to his personal website at www.chrisstandring.com
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