Thursday, July 24, 2008

digital music promotion on the internet: The quick guide


How is digital technology changing the music industry and how soon can we expect these changes to impact the way we can make money from a career in music?

The music industry is fine. The recording industry that has dominated the music industry until now is not.

More opportunites represent more competition.

How Record labels dominated the old music industry:

*Ways music made money: CD’s, Touring, Merchandise, Endorsements/Appearances, Publishing, royalties and licensing.
*Record labels: Controlled recording, manufacture, and promotion (media)

*Music was released in album format to maximise revenue

How the digital revolution is a fundamental shift in the music business

* The physical product of music that was manufactured copies on CD, cassette, and LP now can now be distributed and copied without cost.
* The musical industry was often arbitrated completely by a handful of music corporations known as the “major labels” now artists can connect directly to a mass of fans

* Mass communication and marketing controlled by mass media, now users/fans control online media by choosing what they care about

The digital revolution in the music industry is the first of many digital disruptions to hit major industries.

* dramatically reduced recording and production costs

* need for physical distribution eliminated
* power of traditional media in decline due to growth of online information and networks

The growth of independent music began before the spread of the internet in 1990’s effected by:

e.g. CD Baby, music buyers bemoaning “album filler”, artists bemoaning contractual obligations to labels, Independently successful artists such (e.g. Ani Defranco) and local co operative scenes (Dunedin, Seattle, Jamaica, Detroit) creating niches and the long tail of consumer choice.

Changes and what we can expect in the future:

Important: The digital revolution is inevitably changing the music industry, how quickly the changes are effective is the question.

- Physical purchases still account for 90% of all revenue. But download revenue is expected to surpass that of physical sales in 2012
- All over revenues from recorded music are expected to continue to decline at roughly 10% per annum
- All major labels have cut staff in response to declining revenues. EMI has recently shed 2000 jobs.

So physical music products are still likely to have a market in the future though sales and profit margins will continue to decline.

My personal opinion is that:

- the value of recorded music will continue to decline until it is absorbed as a service
- the traditional label format will decline in favour of independent or loosely affiliated groups of artists and related service providers (like myself)
- the relevance of the album format is tenuous

These concepts are all open to innovation around new ways of creating value for consumers. When someone perfects a better way that works consistently the old model will crumble. What is that better way?


Digital Content Checklist for an online promotion campaign

Mp3’s - Record and encode your songs.

Bio - Words for Google, god of the internet. Who and what and where for fans AND Google to understand.

.Jpg - making a connection as a real person and branding

Video - you don’t have to do video (not “A video” but “video” – ongoing video content!) But it’s just like MTV in the 80’s. Now the digital revolution is underway, they will just like people who have videos more, because videos help fans engage and connect, and fans would rather be engaged and connected.

What is the best way to sell my music online?

- Declining value of music vs. speed of change = selling copies of recordings remains viable.

- - itunes. Accounts for over 75% of all retail downloads. The future of the download market is currently tied to itunes.

- Online retail is just like physical retail: you can sell your music in as many shops as you like but you can only pick one distributor

Credible choices for online distribution: CD Baby is great for including physical distribution for unestablished artists

Pro’s: Physical distro, flat fee of $35, reputable company, handles processing

Cons: Have to send 5 physical copies of release to US, take 15% of sale, up to 2 months processing Tunecore provides great online service for artists with established fan bases

Pro’s: 0% commission, single release option
Con’s: Ongoing fees, store by store fee, no physical distribution,

Storefront widgets – E.G. 3rd party applications for retailing across web/social platforms.

Amplifier + Trademe + Local distro: , ,

- The importance of servicing local niches and local connections

- Building fan relationships on NZ’s most popular local website 1 by 1.

Whats the big deal about social networking and web 2.0?

Social media is content, and content is promotion. “owning more of the internet”

Social networking for google: remember keywords and keyword rich backlinks

OMD + free mp3’s

Old school daddies

New school laddies (ilike)


Myspace changed online culture and made the internet (social media) mainstream. internet hasn’t quite overtaken television as teenagers main media source but will do so in the next 2-3 years. Myspace despite it’s recent decline as a social destination is still the no. 1 music website in the world.

Layout: Keep it modest and don’t over reach. Beware pre-made custom layouts. The function of your Myspace is a showcase, a shop window display, an advertisement. Keep it functional and outcome focused – direct your traffic (ie “check out the new video” “sign up for our mailing list to be notified of our next exclusive mp3 giveaway”)

- use your title and display image creatively (think about your vanguard + first impressions)

- bands ramming their downloads and merchandise down your throat doesn’t feel right – build relationships

But what about promotion? What about the getting an edge in Social media?

Promotion: Is content. Is having something to say. That is, hype is dead. Feed out content. Create access. Destroy friction. Syndicate

Spam and promotion: Don’t try this at home - Its about them not you. Permission marketing.

*spam disclaimer: “spam” is unsolicited electronic contact and is illegal. When I refer to “spam” I refer to bots, scripts and software that automate communication tasks. Bands should refrain from engaging in legally dubious attempts to contact unqualified and unidentified targets unsolicited.

You’re not on social networks to Sell your CD. You’re there to make friends, to have fun. It’s about engaging attention and turning that attention into a connection.

Rule #1 of social media: engage your audience where they are. Manage time SM commitments

- but engage highly qualified local niche sites: ,

Social Networking: Myspace, , ,

- interacting, engaging and joining the conversation ( I don’t want to buy your t-shirt . . . yet!)
- sub networks and sub communities – engage niches within broader networks


- the importance of tags in internal searches, links, bio
- automated distribution and tubemogul
- future video revenue?


Social Music sites:,, ,

- Aggregation of user data for recommendations (

- Widgetisation and 3rd party tools (reverbnation and ilike)

- streaming royalties (, reverbnation and Imeem)

Social Bookmarking:
- Bookmarks your favourite webpages for public use. Aggregates user data. Google juice tool.

Socially organised information:,

RSS, P2P and Podcasts

- RSS, content syndication and
- P2P, peer sharing networks, etc –
- Podcasts, enclosures, Itunes + podcast networks –

Free Blogs: ,

Whats the best thing I can do right now for my music? Write another blog post

Little blogging: Owning more of the web

Big blogging: Creating a channel for content delivery and audience engagement



- building search presence, building revenue sources, building engagement with audiences

Do we really have to write a blog? No. But promotion is content. You engage online audiences by feeding content through your online channel and accumulating online presence and a blog is in many ways a website that has been optimised for regular, frequent and ongoing delivery of content in order to engage.

How can I use my website to build a career?

Your website, blogs and social networks allows you to build contacts, create revenue and build a career without having to gain “old model” industry acceptance.

Being consistent (consistently improving) + prolific is essential, as will engaging new technology give you the edge in digital promotion.

1 - Setting up your website

Domain name – keywords vs. branding: ,
Hosting – – also and

WEB DESIGN – contact

- issues of control and “independence”

- The digital revolution and evil technocrats who charge too much based on your ignorance

- web designers vs internet marketers (metatags, flash design)

- CMS (content management system)

2 - Promoting your blog and website

- What matters to google: keyword content, age + updates, and backlinks with anchor text

- Social Media which we’ve discussed
- leveraging content for promotion (, )
- leveraging secondary services and products for promotion (ie ebook / widget – is for advanced users!)

- Advertising (Is for advanced users)

- offline crossovers (engage them!)

3 - Developing your website

- your website is a channel

- brand for engagement

- unique propositions create engagement

- foster community and interaction

engaging fan relationships: Email Lists:,,
- building a unique value proposition around an emailing list (or; is the future hard?)

How and when are we going to get money from the internet?

We know the music industry is moving online – how will musicians profit and when will technology make new income streams viable?

- is the music industry converging into a greater digital content industry (e.g. rock star, guitar hero)

- What and where is the value of music going to be in the future + how can I capture this value

Diverse products, services and price structures
- Nine Inche Nails
- Korean/Asian Music Industry
- ringtones ( )

Really really get open minded about leveraging what you have to create new services and added value

Monetizing Ad supported content: ,,

Brand expansion
- merchandising
- endorsements
- sponsorship

Leveraging Email lists, affiliate marketing and monetizing relationships
- fan supported models
- affiliate offers and niche storefronts
- high value commissions vs. low value music copies

Building and monetizing online communities
- web 2.0, c2c, facilitating access and community interaction, user generated content
- 1000 true fans
- gated communities and flat fee service access

- Licensing, publishing, royalties and synch fees ,

- online publicity (not officially endorsed by Matt @ Kurb!) , ,

My favourite blogs: – this one is a marketing one but its so good!

Don’t forget to check out the new kurb artist community @ for online marketing, budget cd and dvd services, budget postering services

And stay up to date with my blog: /


Arthur Orchid said...

You're right this is a revolution runing in terms of "promoting & distributing" music through the web.

Even very well know bds such as ColdPlay are trying those new channels to sell their tracks.

I assume it has changed after iTunes, YouTube and MySpace.

We're watching less TV & wish to get access to videos & music anywhere so the Internet is one answer...


Anonymous said...

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priya said...

What an exciting experience!/Hilarious! Delightful! True!/wonderful stuff! thank you!

Online Marketing Melbourne

MusicianPromote said...

Thanks for this quick guide. I'll bookmark this coz I'll be using it perhaps this year.
Online Music Promotion

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varun said...

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