Seth Godin: Get It Right For 10 People

image from inspireentertainment.com


Don't Go For The Masses, 

Go Direct To Fan

Major labels are mass marketing power giants; it’s what they do. Before the advent of the social web, they  were the only way to reach the masses. Due to their influence on commercial radio stations, at big-box retail outlets, and on television, much of this remains true. If an artist wants the general public to become familiar with their music and know all words to their songs at the next show, then having the financial support of a major label will help them achieve that feat. 

What’s interesting though, is that despite decades of experience in breaking new artists, major labels still have no idea whether or not their mass marketing is working until the end. Online analytics, small boosts in sales, viral YouTube videos, and conversations—these all serve as little cues that something is starting to happen, but there’s no way to tell when the point of reaching critical mass been achieved.  That is, until it actually occurs:The blockbuster album.

"Get It Right In The Small"

Now, contrast this with the experience of a direct-to-fan marketing manager and an indie artist they represent. Through its easy for both parties to default into thinking like a major label, to try and reach the masses and put off the moment of understanding how successful their marketing has been until the campaign is over – that’s just not how going direct-to-fan works. From the very beginning, the direct-fan-marketer knows if their promotional efforts are working. Why? Because they must get it right in the small. An email can be sent to 100 fans and if it gets a great response rate, only then can it be mailed off to several thousands more. 

Get it right for ten people before you rush around scaling up to a thousand,” writes marketer and author Seth Godin.  “It's far less romantic than spending money at the start, but it's the reliable, proven way to get to scale if you care enough to do the work.” In other words, artists need to remind themselves not to go for the masses, when they can go direct, one fan at a time, slowly scaling up, until their message and their music is truly ready to be hard. After all, a failed marketing campaign is much easier to fix early on. If an artist is trying to reach the masses, then like a major label, they won’t know if they’ve failed till the end.

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  1. Kyle – This is FANTASTIC advice, and something that Nimbit advocates with every artist, manager, and marketing professional we work with. In a direct-to-fan environment, the artist holds much more control over everything from concept to costs/revenues, so often effectively reaching 100 true fans yields a greater return than a more traditional/broad outreach to thousands of less engaged, passive “fans”…

  2. Sage words Kyle. The motto I use is “Get in the corridor with what you have, grow like mad and adjust along the way”. It’s the true entrepreneurial path that artists need to take and doing it this way ensures that you don’t prejudge the market, instead they are constantly telling you what they want as they go along so you can take immediate steps to satisfy demand.
    Large corporations cant change as quickly as the small business (which like it or not independent artists, bands and labels are) which gives them the competitive advantage both now and in the future.

  3. Scott – can you add to the conversation without promoting yourself. It sounds so desperate…

  4. Agree with the article. We all have that desire to get to the big time quick.
    I feel strongly that, as the article states, if we have more of a steady, consistent approach you start to build upon each fan you acquire, each success, and before you know it you’ll have quite a following of fans who are loyal and eager to support your music business.
    Planning, patience, and consistency will get you there. If you’re bound to be at the very top of the business then it will come…. sooner or later. Later allows you to prepare for that time and to have longevity.
    Thanks again for sharing the great info!

  5. Seriously – what’s next from Seth Godin – “Don’t try and get your music heard by lots of people – all you need is to have your next door neighbor knowing the lyrics to all your songs.”

  6. Hypebot really needs to bring people into the music conversation who actually work in the music world.
    Is music promoting really that complex? NO!

  7. Thanks Luis. I will take that into consideration next time. Too bad not enough of those people publish blogs or write online. Seth does. He says smart stuff. We quote him.

  8. The problem is… most musicians know nothing about running a business, never mind marketing, so I understand that to the hobbyists, promoting music requires nothing more than tweets and staples (for flyers). Wrong, wrong wrong. Just because it’s the “music” business doesn’t make it any less a business. If you’re serious about making a living in music, part of succeeding in ANY business requires good marketing tactics and strategy. But Seth wouldn’t know anything about that, now, would he?

  9. That’s why the Black Music Business grew so rapidly back in the 80s. Blacks were targeted by the R&B depts. and the results were great. Targeting niche markets has worked for a long time. The people at the top have just forgotten. Seeds grow and grow and grow.

  10. Makes me think of iterative development systems, like Agile development in software. Do a little piece of a project, get it right [or realize it is all wrong], move on to the next piece. Repeat. There’s far more to it, but the idea of getting it right for 10 first would easily lend itself to such a system.
    Been adapting such processes to all my businesses, and it has been working great so far for me.
    RT’ed this from Hypebot the other day too:
    Artists, you may not want to hear it, but you have to look at yourselves as businesses. – Over heard at #NMS
    That’s a huge hurdle for a lot of bands/artists right there no matter what systems or processes you show them.

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