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5 Audience Growing Tips For Music Tech Startups From iHeartRadio's Brian Lakamp

Brian-lakampOver the weekend Brian Lakamp, President of Digital for Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, shared what he's learned over the last two years of growing iHeartRadio's audience. Lakamp emphasizes putting customers first, taking marketing seriously and keeping things simple. It's not that far off from reasonable advice for musicians but the emphasis here is music tech startups. Given how many seem to fail because they simply could not achieve an initial critical mass, understanding how to grow your audience is clearly key for survival much less prosperity.

For the last couple of years, Clear Channel's Brian Lakamp has been "tasked with helping to grow the consumer audience for iHeartRadio." If he summed things up, he said his primary lesson has been:

"Building a successful brand from the ground up is incredibly difficult (yes, even with the backing of a large and well-established media company)."

Here's a paraphrased version of his 5 tips with quotes from his discussion:

Brian Lakamp's Tips For Growing Your Startup's Audience

1) Keep the customer first.

"Changing consumer behavior is incredibly difficult. It’s much easier to build a product that’s tailored to established consumer patterns, particularly if you’re an unknown brand."

"Above all, you should constantly ask yourself whether what you’re doing benefits the end-user. If the answer is “no,” don’t do it!"

2) Take marketing seriously.

"I see far too many start-ups relying on a half-baked word-of-mouth strategy, instead of having a solid marketing plan in place."

"Wherever possible, try to find partners with large consumer audiences that you can tap into. If your budget is tight, opt for a barter relationship instead of a paid one."

3) Move fast and keep things simple.

"At iHeart, we’re constantly fighting our natural inclination to layer on additional functionality and instead aim to keep things simple and make our existing features the best they can possibly be. For consumer apps with killer developer teams, this can be one of the hardest skills to master."

"Remember to keep things intuitive and make sure that all features serve a real need. If your interface is cluttered or difficult to use, consumers will give up quickly and move on to another service — probably your competitor’s."

4) Be where your customers are.

iHeartRadio’s mandate: "Be everywhere our listeners are, with the products and services they expect. We need to come to the user, not the other way around."

5) "Dream big" but don't lose touch with reality.

"My advice to anyone who wants to get into this business is to avoid romanticizing it. Think long and hard about whether this is what you want to do, surround yourself with people who can give you solid business advice. Lastly, be prepared to put in a lot of work."

Notice how the first four all put the needs and awareness of the customer first.

This is not unlike the perspective that should be fueling your social and search engine strategies.

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Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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