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New Rules for the New Year: What is coming in the Music Industry?

Aug 17, 2007
We've seen it coming for several years, but it's here, full on and in our faces now... so what do artists do? The word "artist" means: "One whose work shows skill." (The American Heritage Dictionary)

However, with the arrival of unskilled, but nice "artists" being signed to contracts and marketed to the public - and the public is hearing the call and purchasing their music - what is the secret?

We all know William Hung of American Idol fame. This gentleman is sweet and seems kind, but frankly, can't sing a note and is artistically disturbed and challenged to say the least. So how did he land a record deal and sell over a 100,000 units right off the block? How is it that even after what would normally be a one-hit-wonder scenario, the novelty didn't wear off and he has a Christmas CD out that also sold quite well?

Then we find a Princess on the show "Love in the Heir," who can't sing, can't write, but I am pretty sure will be getting a deal, if she hasn't already. The credits read "Asylum Entertainment." Could this be a resurfacing of Asylum Records?

So how do these obscure people get deals and move product when talented artists can't get a CD on the shelf?

The answer: it's all about marketing. We have heard it time and time again and that's what it is. A rock packaged and sold as a rock is just a rock. But a rock packaged and marketed as a friend becomes a cultural phenomenon.

These companies find a way to pull at our heart strings. With William, it was his sweet genuine spirit that seemed to say, "I am the underdog, but I don't know it." Everyone loves an underdog, especially an unknowing one. With Princess Ann, there is the royalty novelty, but they play up the unspoiled victim and everyone roots for the victim.

They have been marketed as the person next door, the underdog and our friends. We can personalize and associate with their lives. That grabs us at our heartstrings, which then grabs us in our bank accounts. We dole money out to help support ourselves, really. We are buying the product because it reminds us of our dreams unrealized. The marketing has then worked: The artist and the public have reached a common ground.

Statistics have shown that most buys are done from emotional buying, not from a planned excursion!

So how can the average Joe grab the marketing media, without having access to being on a reality show? It's hard, but obtainable. Tell a story that captures the hearts of the world, one that they can relate to. You must communicate to the general public a story that they can relate to. You must give them a value, a reason for buying your product.

Some think that the growth of a digital delivery system will result in the balance of power shifting away from large-scale entertainment companies in favor of musicians no longer dependent upon large record companies for manufacturing and distribution of the musician's work. So, there is an economic incentive for artists to seek independent digital distribution because under the traditional, major label model of distribution, artists earn around $1.50 per CD, while digital delivery garners them about $6 for the same CD.

However, despite this economic advantage for the Indies, the major labels sales still win out over the Indies in sales. Why? Marketing. It's all about marketing and PR. The major labels market their products to the public: YOU MUST DO IT. YOU MUST HAVE IT.

Without marketing and promotion, the music you have labored in love over will remain in your basement or garage, gathering dust, despite the easy access to digital distribution and the economic advantage that digital distribution provides to independent artists.

If you don't understand how to market a product, start networking with those people that do. Go to trade shows to learn how to step with the best. Scour the Internet for marketing information and if at all possible take a course in marketing at your local junior college.

Musicians all say the same thing: "I do it because I love music, not because I want to make money." That is true to a certain extent. We all love what we do, but if you don't make money, you won't be able to continue. Love the music, market and then collect the money to make your next project shine!
About the Author
Jaci Rae is a #1 Best Selling author of The Indie Guide to Music, Marketing and Money and Winning Points with the Woman in Your Life One Touchdown at a Time. Tune in for "The Jaci Rae Show" heard live around the world every Thursday: Click on the weekly show link
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