Last week's CMJ 2011 Music Marathan & Film Festival had lots of panels and lots of performances. Here are some nuggets of advice for indie artists from music industry panelists with a focus on social media, relationships with fans and the real meaning of DIY.
CMJ 2011 took place in New York City from October 18 to 21. Industry panels contained insights for all levels of the game including some particularly useful tips for indie artists as recorded by writers for CMJ and Billboard.
"Artists feel pressure to churn out content like singles, music videos and remixes in order to keep buzz about themselves alive on the internet — which is exactly the impulse an artist should avoid, the panelists recommended."
"'If you're actually getting that attention [on the web], don't take every opportunity that comes your way,' [Ba Da Bing Records' Ben] Goldberg said, warning artists and publicists not to tire out bloggers and listeners with a high volume of hype. 'Slowly show that you're somebody that will have something to say two months from now, six months from now, a year from now.'"
"Artist web sites also have an important role, especially in transitioning the casual fan into a paying customer and as a protection for artists who have a large presence on social networks in case Facebook or Twitter 'pulls a Myspace' and becomes largely irrelevant."
"Having free download links only redeemable in the artist's online store draws the fans into an area where they can buy other merchandise within a few clicks, while exclusive giveaways on the artist's web site draws more people off social networks and drives traffic into the band's own territory."
"According to [RootMusic's Chris] Wiltsee...instead of trying to attack from all sites at once and trying to manage accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Google +, Spotify, Songkick and more, artist and their management teams are better off focusing their efforts on a few platforms and building a solid presence there...match the artist to the best platform for their audience, and then encourage them to connect as personally as possible to the fans they reach."
"It's important to know your audience, especially since now it's so much easier for artists to connect directly with their fans. The more you understand who you're talking to, how to segment them and where they're from/coming from, the more you'll be able to give them what they want. This will keep them engaged and—ideally—ready to help you."
Perhaps the most useful insight not typically noted was shared at the beginning of The DIY Religion panel by Greenberg Traurig's Steven Beer:
"This is the first time in the history of popular music that the artist can define success on their own instead of the industry defining it. No longer are you successful if you go platinum or gold or win a Grammy. You can actually have your own success idea and form a success plan around that definition of success."
Hypebot contributor Clyde Smith is a freelance writer and blogger. He maintains a business writing hub at Flux Research and also blogs at This Business of Blogging. To suggest music services and related topics for review at Hypebot, please contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.