New Music Business: Analyzing The Indie Artist X Marketing Strategy

by Matt @ Kurb on July 13, 2009

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When I checked out the Indie Artist X strategy and saw the names involved I knew it wasn’t going to be some hyped up nonsense and that there would definitely be some ideas worth dissecting on the table.

Andrew Goodrich
Artists House Music
Channel: Fan Development

Bruce Houghton
Channel: Commerce

Cameron Mizell
Channel: Awareness

David Rose
Channel: Artist Website

Heather McDonald Music Careers
Channel: Influencers

Martin Atkins
Revolution Number Three
Channel: Live Shows

As I mentioned earlier in the year, there’s certainly a sense of a new model based around certain static principals of a predominantly digital music industry falling into place.

The extent to which you balance traditional music marketing and newer online strategies really depends on what’s right for you, but it is clear that the internet side of the business is becoming a bigger part of where the marketing, where the interacting and where the purchasing is happening, so if you’re looking for a standardized, systematic approach to successful online music marketing then the shape of what the looks like is becoming apparent.

Let’s look at the Indie Artist X Marketing Strategy:

The Artist

The artist participating in the Indie Artist X Project is a talented, hard working independent musician who has had two previous records released by a small independent record label. He is currently not signed to a record label, does not have a booking agent or manager. He has a day job and is married. His goal is to make music his full time career. We will share the name of the Indie Artist X artist once the project is wrapped up at the end of October.
Matt says: October? That’s ambitious.  So although the artist has been cherry picked by the experts, they’ve made clear that this is an artist who does not have a lot of traction, which is a strong recognition of the fact that the challenge isn’t so much in keeping established artists going but how to establish new talents in the first place.

The Artist Website Channel

Artist Website Strategy

The artist website will be the focal point for engaging fans online and the primary place on the web to find artist news, music and tour dates. Since we want to engage music fans music will be heavily featured on the website. All released songs will be available for full length streaming and purchase, in both CD and MP3 format. Featured unreleased tracks and demos from the upcoming new release will be available to download in MP3 format for fans who have signed up for the artist’s email list. The website will be the central place for developing fan relationships and will encourage fans to sign up for the artist mailing list on several pages. Fans that sign up for the artist mailing list will have exclusive access to download free unreleased tracks and demo version of new songs plus qualify for monthly fan relationship programs and giveaways.

Matt Says: Well now look at that – the website riding high out front and engaging fans online the objectove of that. So you can see your own website as a powerful tool is vitally important, but so is understanding that your site must evolve and spending megabucks on design flourish may not meet all your needs in marketing your music.

There’s streaming but no downloads unless the email signup is got. Another central part of an artist platform – a SOLID email management platform. And that platform is not just about offering up one free mp3 but a steady stream of goodies and offers. What a fan relationship program consists of doesn’t matter as long as there’s attempt there to MAINTAIN ongoing fan interactions.

Artist Website Tactics / Priorities

1. Music – Make available full length streams of both released albums, make both released albums available for purchase in both CD and MP3 format, make available all released individual tracks available for purchase in MP3 format and feature the artist’s most popular songs for streaming on every page of the website. Feature one unreleased track or demo of a new song every 30 days (each song is only available for 30 days) – these tracks will be available for free download exclusively to fans who subscribe to the artist’s mailing list.

Matt says: Yes so ongoing free content available for a short time, so it’s a real negotiation between keeping your fans engaged with as much free content as you can so that that can lead to sales of a full catalogue of downloads, products, servicesm merch etc.

2. Fan Development – Encourage fans to sign up for the artist’s mailing list on multiple pages of the website. Feature the mailing list sign up prominently on the homepage. Offer fans that sign up for the artist’s mailing list exclusive access to free downloads of unreleased demo or live tracks (one exclusive track each month). Feature links to the social networks where the artist maintains a presence so fans can connect with or follow the artist on their favorite social networks.

Matt says: By encourage fans, hopefully mean develop a dedicated strategy to making sign ups a priority outcome, not only accessible and easy to do, but appealing. A compelling proposition. A free track every month is certainly getting there as long as as an artist, you can maintain that depth.

Sure feature links and maintain a presence – acknowledging you have to meet your fans on their ground so as well as maintaining a broad presence across multiple networks, you must be selective in maintaining a deep presence on those specific niche networks that are cohesive with your target audience.

The object remains sign ups to the email list because you can’t profit from social networking in the way that email management allows for by offering regular propositions. Therefore, it’s better for the artist to maintain content primarily from their blog, website, or forum etc. and have that distributed and teased out through the networks.

You need to treat all your SM networks like twitter and use it to push out links that rope in users and fans to engage, where every shot, once, twice a month, then moving to once, twice a week, has the ability to go viral and get spread.

3. Basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Link back to the artist’s website from each social media or music related site where the artist has a profile. Promote and link back to the fan exclusive free downloads on the artist’s website from social media and music related sites where the artist has a profile. Link back to the artist’s website in all artist email newsletters. Regularly update the news section of the artist website with new, key word heavy (artist name and genre) content. Updated news will be featured on the site homepage. Provide a RSS feed on the website to follow artist news and announcements.

Matt Says: This is very basic SEO, and relatively, I would say, not as strong as would realistically be required to make a difference. It won’t jack this side of October that’s for sure. Your backlinks are fundamental obviously, regular updates of original content with keyword density, great . . . there’s more intermediate stuff to be done. Metatags etc. goes without saying, Article Marketing defnitely, some blg commenting and what I’m talking is at least a round of blog directory submissions and RSS directory submissions. In SEO little things make all the difference.  But musicians can’t afford decent SEO and nor is it really worth it but if your manager knows SEO or is y’know – ME – then you’re going to be a lot better off long term.

4. Artist News – Provide regular (weekly if possible) updates to the news section of the website. Updates can potentially include: promoting upcoming live shows, recaps / thanks for recent live shows, announcing the monthly fan contest winner, announcing / promoting the monthly fan exclusive free download, encouraging fans to sign up for the email list, encouraging fans to connect on a specific social network of music related site, promoting new videos, mentions of other live shows or music the artist enjoyed, tour related tales / updates, lyrics to new songs. Always keep the news and comments positive. Provide a RSS feed for following the artist’s news section.

Matt Says: Alright, alright but you gotta realise that by this stage that a bit more dynamic has to be coming out rather than the old ho hum. The artist and their team has to commit to making magic happen for the audience! Getting to the stage of having a decent list is hard enough but moving to past 1000 fans and into a career takes true enchantment!

5. Contact – Always reply to any fan inquiries from the website contact form within 24 hours. Direct contact and discussions with fans is critical. Include all active social media links in the contact section to make it easy for fans to connect with / follow the artist on their favorite social media sites.

Matt Says: This is where I break with convention. I’m not saying be aloof from your fans I’m just saying . . . what’s realistic? You’re asking me? It’s about branding. You think that twilight vampire git Robert whathisface has to answer every fan directly when every little girl in the world is in love with him? The guy’s brand is MASSIVE.

What to do? Look at where you can use branding in step with technology to create the appearance of authenticity.  oh but it’s so fake! I guess, but answering fan mail and maintaining a seemingly authentic relationship with over 1000 people kind of takes a little bit of orchestration if you’re to actually do anything BUT that! Believe me! So we use software automation where we can and if we have to, we tell your fans you’re “suffering from exhaustion”.

6. Commerce – Make the website store the primary place to direct fans for purchases (not iTunes, Amazon, etc.). Directing fans to the website store will help increase overall site traffic and provide the opportunity to promote upcoming live shows, encourage visitors to sign up for the fan list and promote fan exclusive downloads. The website store should be the exclusive place to purchase any new songs or full releases for at least 30 days before making them available through other sites or via distribution. Implement a pricing strategy that ensures fans will always find the lower prices on music and merchandise on the artist’s website store than what’s available through online retailers (via distribution).

Well that’s cool I guess, but where’s the money coming from? Selling music at a $1 a song? You gonna sell 50,000 songs now? That’s your monetization strategy? I’d give it up. There’s gotta be something worth more than a dollar you can sell, just give the songs away or use them to trade on engagement in the way that was described. $1? Come on man.

Artist Website Tools

We are using the following tools for the artist’s website: Audiolife , Bandzoogle, Google Analytics and Reverbnation.

Matt says: That’s great, I’m sure that’ll work out dandy for you, widgets, stats, etc. it’s all much of a muchness is it not?

Which one is the pro email solution?

Well all I can say is I hope there’s more because all in all the set up seems great but  . . . um . . . where’s the rest? I mean this all seems like a pretty solid platform with some very notable aspects including the use of the website, social networks as satellites, email sign ups, feeding out regular giveaway content – all stuff I’m a really huge fan of but I would like to hear how they actually plan to market the music.
Especially since there main monetization strategy seems to be selling recordings? Very ambitious.
As in, what’s happening to get fans to come and find the music, it seems so far, a very “build it and they will come” approach – there doesn’t seem to be any active strategy to drive traffic to the artists website such as an online advertising campaign or some description of a publicity campaign. ublicity isn’t my bag but surely there’s something to be done there? and I would also be thinking of a strategy to deeply engage fans in an interactive way . . . something BETTER than just a mashup competition, some way of employing user generated content for viral value.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Martin Atkins 07.13.09 at 2:52 pm

Howdy Matt – I diodn’t see any mention of the area my school is advising on – the touring aspect – hionestly I dont think any strategy can fully succeed without constant touring – its the eway you get instant feedback on material and stage moves, the way you meet and interact with fans and friends and the way you monetise the whole thing and create more content. This has been a terrific challenge for our students so far – not being familiar with the artist until the beginning of the program and working with many other organisations – its exactly what we are about.
we just returned from a gallery opening in Baltimore and we’re heading out to Trick Drums this week!!
Thanks for the input – keep it coming!!


Martin Atkins

Masayuki Sato 01.09.11 at 4:54 pm

I’m Japanese.
In Japan, as there are people I met all the indie indie music lovers and launched a website.
The name “INDIES WEB” is.

Great indie music, the video can be searched.
CD has also posted information.
Live has also posted information.
Are compatible with the PC alone. Optimize for the iPhone and Android.
But of course you can enjoy iPad.
I think the interesting projects every day.

It is mainly a Japanese person, so I made the Japanese want to use it and hope people around the world, has introduced an API translation.
Useless for music is not necessary to enjoy.
You can access all indie music can be enjoyed.

Indie music, I think more broaden markets around the world.
With a huge advertising costs, sell only music is crazy stupid.
The commercialism is not a real music-should enjoy the pure art.

Raise the status of independent music in the world.
Want to provide a great meeting and all music fans and artists.
I think so.

2010/12/6 website was established so is still small.
Registration is still only Japanese artists.
But I want to artists around the world.
I want access to music fans around the world.

If you came to mind, then please feel free to visit.

May the good music meeting.

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